Recently released data shows schools across Scottsdale and especially those in the north are expected to keep growing over the next 25 years, a fact that comes as welcome news to the Scottsdale school leaders.
“We have potential slow growth, and I was pleasantly surprised by that,” Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent John Baracy said after enrollment projections were presented to governing board members this week.
Enrollment is projected to increase districtwide. With open enrollment factored in, the schools are expected to grow from the current 29,000 students to more than 34,000 in 2030. Schools in north Scottsdale are expected to grow more quickly than those in the landlocked south, according to analysis by researchers in Arizona State University’s Decision Theater.
Baracy said this information would be important as the district moves forward and has to make decisions as to where to put new schools or whether to change existing boundaries.
The enrollment projections were based on numbers from the Maricopa Association of Governments, land-use plans from Scottsdale and the number of students who have been enrolled at Scottsdale schools at any point during the year.
Scottsdale has what ASU professor Tim Lant called “a fairly complex open-enrollment dynamic,” which has been important to balancing enrollment across the district.
Schools near the district’s border are most likely to attract students from outside the district. On average, 16.3 percent of students come from outside the district to attend schools that are right on the district’s border, with out-ofdistrict populations decreasing for schools farther inside district lines.
The analysis also estimated that 1,561 students have been driven out of the district by apartments being converted to condominiums, confirming one of Baracy’s longtime suspicions.
However, this trend should correct itself in the next few years as young families move into those condos or they are converted back to apartments, Lant said.
Board member Dieter Shaefer said he wasn’t too surprised by the enrollment projections, although they will be important to analyze as the district plans for the future.
While paying attention to the housing market is important, Shaefer said making sure the district offers a challenging curriculum will ultimately have more of a role in attracting students to Scottsdale classrooms.
“If I send my child to school, I want to know they’ll be prepared for college and prepared to succeed in college. ... That’s the driver here,” he said.
Board member Molly Holzer also said enrollment data was only one piece of information she looks at when making decisions. And while she appreciated finding out how Scottsdale’s new housing developments might affect enrollment, she said she’ll be keeping an eye on how accurate the projections are as time goes on.
The Scottsdale Unified School District is projected to keep growing through 2030, with schools in the northern part of the district growing faster than those in the south.
NOTES: Figures do not include the Scottsdale Unified School District's schools of choice (Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center, Cheyenne Traditional School, Copper Ridge Math and Science Academy and Sierra Vista) because all students at those schools are open enrolled. Figures include open enrollment estimates, but are slightly inflated because they count students registered at the school for any part of the year
SOURCE: Arizona State Univiersity Decision Theater