Planning consultant Mark Roffers gave a presentation at this month’s school-board meeting, where he projected the impact newer developments would have on student enrollment.

The certified planner began by summarizing the MO of his consulting company, MDRoffers.

“From time to time,” Roffers said, “we have updated enrollment projections for the district. Broadly speaking, we look at housing-unit growth and neighborhood change in the district – and then try to translate that into enrollment projections.”

Roffers highlighted new housing developments expected in the village of Waunakee, such as the Heritage Hills subdivision north of Hwy. 19 between Schumacher Road and Division Street.

“We have some new housing development that’s anticipated to happen sooner than we projected back in 2017,” Roffers said. “The other thing we’ve seen over the last few years in your district, and particularly the village of Waunakee, is increased interest in multiple-family construction.”

The Veridian development could have a considerable impact on student enrollment, he said.

“Based on our experience doing projections for other school districts in your area,” Roffers said, “we know that Veridian developments typically have fairly strong student generation. They are first-time homes for many young families here in Dane County.”

Roffers said the reason for that is their single-family homes are priced considerably lower than the average for new construction in the area they’re built.

“How this is different,” Roffers said, “is that single-family homes that are slated to develop here would start in the high 200’s- or low 300’s-dollar range. That’s quite a bit under what the typical single-family house in the village is selling for.”

Roffers referenced the growth in multiple-family housing options as well.

“The Laurel being built in Kilkenny Farms right now has full occupancy expected by this year,” Roffers said. “And noteworthy is that that project falls in a more suburban setting… This could very well lead to more students, per unit, than we typically see out of multifamily (developments).”

The planner pointed to other multiple-family developments such as Lamphouse Apartments, built and occupied in 2019, and a possible affordable-housing development on West Main Street.

He said such developments could result in student generation of up to 0.25 students per unit.

Roffers then reviewed his company’s most recent student-enrollment projection for the district, which was completed in the fall of 2017.

At that time, Roffers projected that 2020 resident enrollment would include 1,519 students in grades K-4; 638 students in grades 5-6; 656 students in grades 7-8; and 1,341 students in grades 9-12.

If accurate, this year’s resident enrollment would increase by 226 students.

However, comparing the projection against current reality, Roffers said it is unlikely that enrollment in grades K-4 and 7-8 will increase by as much as his company had anticipated.

“Neither Heritage Elementary School or the Middle School will meet MDRoffers’ 2020-21 enrollment projections for those schools,” Roffers stated. “Still, enrollment at both schools will likely grow moderately throughout the 2020s due to continued housing unit growth.”

He stated that projections for grades 5-6 and 9-12 remain on target.

“Projected influx of more affordable single-family housing and 2- and 3-bedroom apartments may accelerate housing unit development and student generation,” Roffers concluded.

The full review has been uploaded to the district’s website.

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