The Sun Prairie Area School District’s enrollment will continue to grow by an average of 3.1 percent during the next five years, according to a report from the UW Applied Population Lab (UWAPL) given to the Sun Prairie School Board on Monday, Dec. 2.
Sarah Kemp from the UWAPL also said during the next five years, the SPASD might expect:
• Recent births indicate decline, while 4-year-old Kindergarten (4K) and regular kindergarten (K) enrollment trends show increases. K-5 enrollment will likely increase by 29 to 321 students.
• As the current elementary students progress, the middle school is projected to lose as many as 66 students or gain as many as 36 students, while the upper middle school is likely to decline by 2 to 86 students.
• The high school is projected to gain 206 to 239 students, or experience a 12% gain.
“The district should continue to monitor enrollment change, and compare it with these projections, to assess the district’s trajectory of future growth and the best-fitting projections model,” the report stated.
Kemp said the UWAPL looked at five different trends — a baseline, a two-year trend, a 4K trend, a kindergarten trend and actual.
The Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Trend model uses the 4K to K grade progression ratios to project future kindergarten enrollment. The five-year trend progression ratios are used to project the other grades 1-12 in the district. This hybrid model shows that PK-12 enrollment is projected to increase from 8,482 students in 2019-20 to 8,761 students in 2024-25, according to the report — an increase of 279 students, or a 3.3% increase, over the next five years, according to the UWAPL report.
“Where we’re going to see the most growth, even though you saw a dip this year,” Kemp said, “is in the high school grades.”
Board Treasurer Dave Hoekstra asked if that growth was expected.
“Nothing indicated to me that this was going to happen in any of the models,” Kemp said.
The UWAPL figures show a reduced student population increase when compared to projections by MD Roffers. According to materials distributed to board members, the K-12 projection for 2020-21 by UW APL is 8,024, compared to 8,155 by Roffers — a difference of 131 students.
Those numbers are greater when projecting them out to 2025-26. UWAPL projects 8,071 students while Roffers projects 8,954 — a difference of 883.
But Kemp said in her report that area birthed decreased from 561 in 2013 to 516 in 2018. The number of area housing starts jumped from 120 in 2009 to 924 in 2018.
Among the unknowns, Kemp said, are the number of Madison students among area births, which means that none of them were included in the projections.
The district annually monitors enrollment projections to review past enrollment and plan accordingly for predicted future enrollment. UWAPL provides the district with an annual report that includes charts of past enrollment and 10-year enrollment projections.
No action was taken by the board on the report, which was presented for informational purposed only. But Board President Steve Schroeder asked the board to continue thinking long-range in terms of educational space within the district.
“We’re very fortunate that 16, 17 years ago, the school district bought 100 acres of land near Highway 19,” Schroeder said, adding that the current board needs to do the same for board members 15 years from now. “We need to make sure we’re doing what we can.”
Budget talks begin
The board set three priorities for its 2020-21 Sun Prairie Area School District Budget discussion during the Dec. 2 meeting:
The employee wellness plan ($400,000 per year for the new joint SPASD-City of Sun Prairie employee clinic) starting in July 2020;
• $500,000 for teacher compensation based on previous board action; and
• $300,000 for operations for the new Sun Prairie West High School.
“The reality is,” Schroeder said, “there’s not a whole lot of money left after you add those initiatives.”
Hoekstra asked for a clearer picture of how the $5 million in referendum dollars are being spent each year.
He agreed to meet with administrative team members to have his questions answered.
Board Clerk Carol Sue Albright asked for more social workers and counselors in the schools.
While Schroeder agreed with the need for more counselors and social workers in the schools, he called it “an operational wish” but appreciated that Albright raised the need to the board.
The board is expected to continue budget discussions at future board meetings.
The board also heard a human resources update, approved bills for payment and personnel actions. Watch the full meeting online at ksun.tv .