Monday, May 29, 2017

Where are we likely to exceed our enrollment projections?

Too-long-didn’t-read version: The bond proposal would build hundreds more seats than our enrollment projections tell us we’ll need even ten years from now. It’s true that our enrollment projections are very likely underestimating growth in the North Corridor—but that’s not where we’re putting most of those “extra” seats.

As I wrote about here, one of the reasons I’m not in favor of the district’s bond proposal is that it would build 1,896 more seats than our enrollment projections show that we’ll need even ten years from now. Is it possible that our projections are not fully capturing the amount of population growth that will occur? Yes; in fact, I think it’s likely in some areas. The problem, though, is that those aren’t the areas where we’re building most of those “extra” seats.

One way to judge whether the enrollment projections are capturing growth is to compare them to the “age progression” data we received last year. Age progressions show what the enrollment would be if we just kept moving our current students forward each year. In other words, they show what the enrollment would be if no one moves in and no one moves out; they show what the enrollment would be with zero growth.

In some parts of the district, the projections show more students than the age progressions show; this means they’re predicting some growth in those areas. For example, compare the age progressions to the enrollment projections for City High:

Similarly, though to a somewhat lesser extent, the projections show growth at West High:

At Liberty High, though, the enrollment projections are actually lower than the age progressions:

This aspect of the enrollment projections is striking and very hard to explain. North Liberty is one of the fastest growing cities in Iowa, and there are hundreds of housing units planned for the area around Liberty High in both North Liberty and Coralville. It’s very hard to understand how we could end up with fewer students at Liberty than even the zero-growth age progressions would predict.

In other words, our projections appear to be recognizing likely growth in Iowa City, but missing it in the North Corridor. So, if anything, you’d think our plans should track the projections in Iowa City, but exceed them in the Corridor. But the bond proposal exceeds them in Iowa City way more than it does in the Corridor. The proposal would build 1,388 more elementary seats than the enrollment projections show we’ll need, but 728 of those “excess” seats are in the City High zone, where it appears that the enrollment projections are already capturing a fair amount of growth. Only 166 of them are in the Liberty zone, where the projections seem not to be capturing any growth at all.

Maybe the growth patterns will surprise us. Enrollment projections are inherently speculative, especially when they reach many years out. In my view, that’s a good reason not to make plans that extend seven years out from the time of bond passage. But at the very least, the district should be trying to build its new capacity in the areas where it expects the growth to occur. Under that standard, the bond proposal is very hard to defend.


A note on sources: The enrollment projections are here; see in particular pages 89, 91, and 93. The planned capacity figures are from Column O here, aggregating the elementaries into high school zones using the district’s feeder system. The high school age progressions are here. We were given age progressions for several different boundary scenarios; the ones that represent the boundaries that were ultimately approved are the ones labeled “City High School - 2015-16 students age progressed,” “West High School - 2015-16 students age progressed with Kirkwood ES moved to LHS,” and “Liberty High School - 2015-16 students age progressed with Kirkwood ES added to LHS.”


amy said...

The phrase "university of iowa" seems to appear nowhere in the DeJong report, even though they're reporting on children ages 5-18, and at points ages 5-19. Nor is there any discussion of the fact that we're very student-heavy in the discussion of Census stats.

How is the UI student population accounted for in these numbers? I suppose by "accounted for in" I mean "removed from".

Edward said...

The University of Iowa is reporting 17,150 resident students for spring 2017. I would assume that a significant portion of those students are included in the ages 5-19 category reported by DeJong since many University of Iowa students are 18 and 19 years old. I agree that it would be nice to see this data broken out into more meaningful categories since we have a unique situation with the university and it skews the data. The DeJong categories seem kind of odd. Why go up to age 19 if you are trying to categorize K-12 students, especially in city with a very large university? Also, I know there are many students currently living in the iccsd boundaries that are open-enrolled outside the district or in private school (many more than have been historically and the trend is increasing). It is my understanding that many have done so due to dissatisfaction with iccsd for various reasons. If those students either chose to come back or if new generations stay with iccsd rather than going private or open enrolling how does this impact numbers?

Anonymous said...

If they are including freshman college students in their prediction equations for enrollment projections, then they are quite likely over predicting enrollment in the Iowa City area. The over-building is going to be worse than it even seems now!

Meanwhile, way under predicting, and consequently under building seats in Coralville and North Liberty.

This is scary for everyone.

Small schools closing if they are allowed to over build to this degree in Iowa City, and at the same time not enough seats in North Liberty and Coralville schools.

amy said...

I'll actually be a little shocked (and worried) if this is the first time the question's come up.

I wonder if the Board are aware that Census workers actually canvass UI student neighborhoods pretty aggressively/diligently, and that this is why our population always looks so young. It doesn't matter that their "real" home addresses are somewhere else: if they sleep here, they're counted here.

Edward, first-year classes are usually bigger than the others -- there's attrition. And DeJong probably goes to 19 because it's not that unusual to see kids turn 19 before they finish high school, especially now that a lot of parents hold kids back from K till they're 6.

Anonymous said...

What's become painfully obvious is that the bond isn't about giving the kids what they need. It's about three parts of town, City-West-Liberty, each trying to make sure that they "keep up with the Joneses." And it is about a frightened Iowa City trying, belatedly, to catch up its tax base, desirability and population to the surging growth that has happened in NL and Coralville.

The kids are going to end up shortchanged because of the adults looking out for their own interests instead of the kids'.

Anonymous said...

According to the University of Iowa in Fall 2016 there were:

877 university students under 18 years old
10,045 university students 18-19 years old (up from 7,736 in 2007)


The university enrollment has been growing rapidly, especially in the 19 and under ages. If these university students and their population growth is reflected in the DeJong numbers then the Iowa City K-12 population (ages 5-19 category) is most definitely grossly inflated.

amy said...

Well -- I mean obviously there was some effort to take them out, then, because otherwise we'd have these huge City/West numbers. But I do wonder how they were removed, because the DeJong report doesn't make any mention of this. Did we just pay them to boilerplate the Census stats at us, then ignore the Census numbers and age-progress current enrollment numbers? (How much did we pay for this?) Or if the Census numbers do get rolled into their special-sauce projection models, how did they handle the fact that the IC numbers are skewed pretty crazily by the presence of the university?

amy said...

Here, btw, is what Rod Sullivan has to say about how great the bond's going to be. Quibbling about the trustworthiness of the people who might be handed $191M is just not cool, apparently.

I'm sure we all want to be cool. I'm also pretty sure this is the same Rod who was real cool when Bernie came to town, and deliberately picked a small venue so there'd be an overflow crowd for the cameras, meaning people wouldn't be able to get in and the elderly/disabled would have nowhere to sit if they wanted to stay and listen. That was cool, all right.

Anyway, here he is:


4. Buildings schools is great for the local construction industry.

That is why I support the bond. Now allow me to address some of the bond’s critics:

Some say, "You can't trust the Board." All the more reason to pass a bond! Bonding language spells out every project. Passing a bond is the best way to hold them accountable.

There is an old Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I view the bond vote in much the same way: “Hate the Board? Our kids need the bond. Love the Board? Our kids need the bond.”

For adults to allow their petty political differences to stand in the way of facilities our children need is simply not cool. This is not about the Board, and not about the Administration. Neither group will be here for long; our children will be. While the adults bicker, the children suffer.

Some say, "It is too expensive." The ICCSD has bonds coming off the same time these would go on. It makes the overall tax increase a very manageable $.98/$1000, or $4.25 per month on $100,000 assessed value. Even if the bond passes, the ICCSD will still have the lowest tax rate of any urban district in Iowa – lower than our neighboring districts.

Some complain because the proposed bond would be the largest in state history. So? The 2003 Yes for Kids campaign, which among other things built North Central Junior High, Tate High, and Van Allen Elementary, was the largest in state history when it was passed.

Will the bond perfectly anticipate every future need? Probably not. But critics of the plan have no viable ideas. The current plan took seven years to get this far. If we vote no, we are telling our ten year olds they will never see any facilities improvements during their academic careers. Putting everything on hold in search of perfection would be a clear case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

Finally, please consider this: With all the negativity in Washington and Des Moines, where they can do whatever they want to us - here is an opportunity for us to stand up and show that we support education.

Much more information is available at passthebond.com. I hope you will join me in supporting One Community. One Bond.


Let me amend what Rod's said, there. "Hate the bond? Our kids need a bond. Not this one, necessarily, but a bond."

Anonymous said...

Amy - where was this originally posted? So according to Rod in his opening statement he is supporting the bond is because building schools is great for the local construction industry. Okay, I am fine with that. It wouldn't be my main reason to build new schools but is a great side effect benefit and from Rod's perspective it makes perfect sense so I can see why he supports the bond. The rest of Rod's sentiment is the same tactics that the administration is trying to sell us. I don't think many are disagreeing that we are in dire need of capacity and infrastructure upgrades to our schools. These are long overdue. We as a community want to do the right thing for our children and build capacity where it is needed and upgrade existing older schools to get them up to standards of our newer schools. The proposed bond unfortunately does not address these needs. This administration and board has chosen to make this political rather than focusing on the needs of our children. It is easy for Rod to say to get over our petty political differences and do what is right for our children since it is what he wants. Just more sanctimonious propaganda.

Tony said...

Don Murleone is sending out more emails to all school administrators asking for PTO's to drum up signatures and support for the petition which is due next week. With the Art Fest this weekend they should have no problem getting the required signatures. He also is trying to get PTO's to have more "educational" meetings with admins, board members and ONE Bond supporters this summer. Kiss the ring...

Karen W said...

Rod Sullivan and Tom Yates had letters to the editor about the school bond published in Little Village magazine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Tom Yates for discussing Alexander. It feels that they are often forgotten about and I'm shocked at how many people in the community still haven't even heard of Alexander.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter who said "Bonding language spells out every project," it isn't true.

Anonymous said...

They might do renovations at Lincoln, and then repurpose the building as their home school assistance center or move TREC there. It might not last as a neighborhood school. Don't be surprised if that happens people!

Same thing for Shimek.

Anonymous said...

Rod Sullivan thinks I oppose the bond for petty reasons? What an a-hole. BTW he lives on Court St east side of Iowa City.

Not one of these BOND supporters has spoken out about the extremely steep challenges WHS is facing in the next ten years. While fewer than 10 students are leaving CHS just about every WHS club, class, and team are being cut in half. Of course they don't see it because they just want that huge GO Bond payday for themselves.

It's disgusting how much money is being directed to the east side. And it's worse when you look at the project time lines.

And R Sullivan it is a huge amount of money. It's historic. If we go with this east side plan WHS and Liberty will have to make do with their meager allotments for decades. There won't be another bond like this.

Will the WHS and Liberty people wake up and stop this power grab? If they care about the next 10-15 years of growth at their schools they will. Otherwise they are getting a crappy deal that will haunt them for a long long time.

Chris said...

Anonymous (12:36): You're correct that West will lose many more students than City to Liberty, but don't forget that City is losing not only the northern portion of the Lincoln zone, but all of the Alexander zone. The full effect won't be felt right away, since many students will be allowed to finish out their time at City, but eventually City's enrollment will be affected by a much greater number than ten students. The grandfathering in of juniors and seniors will also take the edge off of the loss of students at West for the next couple of years. Still, it's true that West is losing all of the current Garner, Penn, and Kirkwood zones, most of the current Van Allen zone, and a portion of the current Wickham zone. Nonetheless, the district's (imperfect) projections show West High's enrollment being close to or greater than City's for the next ten years.

amy said...

Anon 12:36 My kid will be going to West. In fact I can see West from my living-room window. I'm not at all worried about the class or club sizes there. If enrollment were to shrink to the point that the school itself was endangered, I'd worry, but that's not happening.

Might I suggest that if you're this emotional about which half, third, quadrant, or eleven-dimensional unit is getting more of something than you do that you step back and reevaluate how you look at things, and ask why your anxiety goes through the ceiling when someone gets something and you don't? Did you freak out once too often, maybe, as a kid, because someone got more pie than you did? There may at some point be a situation in which it's a *good* thing that a side of town that isn't yours gets heavier investment than yours does. We all live in the same town. So relax. Frankly, there are enough low-income people concentrated on the east side that I have really no trouble at all with the idea that they might get some boosts that the west side hasn't got.

The issue here is not that one side or another gets more. The issue is about whether more of whatever's being handed out is actually *needed* in those places. And, so far, the numbers we have not only do not say "yes, the east side needs some whopping increase in seats", the numbers we have look altogether wonky and untrustworthy. We can't tell how DeJong got them, and they don't seem to make much sense. Add that to all the other problems with this bond -- untrustworthy hands, enormously large debt, vagueness about how the money's going to be spent -- and it's just one more reason not to want it on the ballot, let alone not to vote for it.

Anyway. That's the problem. Not that someone might get more pie than you do.

Anonymous said...

I'm free to go where ever I want, my pie piece has already been cut through hard work that paid off. But there is no escaping the fact that the bond is a mess. And if you don't think WHS is on its way down you're delusional. But then again the West voting district supported this district plan last special election, so enjoy your view of WHS out your window. You sleep in the bed you make. As for me, I'll vote no to this bond cause it's way too fat and built around deceit. I'd much rather wait and see if better elected officials emerge.

And CHS is planning on continuing to run their agenda on this district as long as they can. Their election machine is at work, go take a look at their next set of east side board candidates they have out. They fully intend to keep on running this district the way they want it run. And guess who will always be second and third in that case. Hint, not CHS. And while I don't respect their leadership I do like a lot of folks there. Maybe I'll get a house with a view on the east side. Then again Solon is looking better and better.

amy said...

Yes, the bond is a mess, which is why it's going nowhere.

Beyond that: seriously, what is wrong with you? Remember, "Glory Days" is a cautionary tale, and (sotto voce) the rivalry's imaginary. Cooked up for the kids. And even most of them think it's stupid.

Anonymous said...

Amy stop saying this isn't an east side power grab because it is. Remember "Give me Lincoln" in '09? Or Ed Stone's lawsuit against the district bc he was pissed CHS's band teacher went to WHS? Yes, this is about a group and a scheme and they are from one side of IC. wake up. And yes, I agree that one side of IC shouldn't whither and that funds me need to be lopsided. But the east side rejected the mall development and has plenty of desirable neighborhoods. Let's not over exaggerate the effects of the Cook Co. influx. Go a little north on the east side and they are very well insulated and developing and have no right. BTW what's going to happen to old Hoover? Yeah, CHS will be built to be the largest HS in the district if they have it their way. And WHS will be a shell of its former self. And that's bull. WHS built itself up with a lot of its own effort at no ones expense unless you count bragging rights but CHS was asleep in the 80's so whose fault is that? Speaking of cautionary tales that should be one for all WHS families, neighborhoods and property owners.

Anonymous said...

Amy what's up with the name calling? And yes this is a one side v another situation. Terms like the east side mafia have floated around the district for as long as this FMP has been in progress. And maybe you don't remember an easy sided pounding his fist in '09 demanding, "give me Lincoln." Or maybe you don't remember Dr. Edwin Stone and his lawsuit against the district. Or maybe you don't remember him writing the diversity policy for the ICCSD school board when he wasn't a board member. And maybe you aren't familiar with the fact that Ed Stone is the boss of long time FMP supporter and board member Brian Kirschling who not only takes his orders from Stone but JC. She used to text Kirschling during board meetings.

And yes, WHS is in trouble. If you disagree with that then maybe we should get into the details. But name calling? Lets not. Calling people out by name bc they made themselves public figures in all of this, I say let's get their names and their records out there for everyone to see.

amy said...

Anon 10:51, honestly I think this east-west thing is not only eating your brain, but really damaging discourse about district resources. We can't have a conversation without someone hopping up and down about mafias and evildoers on the other side of town, which is not only juvenile but dumb.

I'm glad I don't have to talk to Ed, but I have no problem at all with his various activisms. He sued the district for docs he was entitled to, and they withheld; good for him. He was active in drafting the equity policy; I agreed with Tuyet when she said nothing wrong there, it'd just be good if more people were involved. He points out the socioeconomic east-west inequities -- yeah, they exist, even if the picture's more complex than it was a few years ago, and we should be shifting money to fix those. He was also, as I recall, a titanic and ultimately unsuccessful opponent of Everyday Math; tant pis. Ed's also a lot brighter than Kirschling, so if he can steer K, I call that making the best of a bad job.

West has a very long way to go before its world can be described as "troubled". It's a public high school in a state that isn't particularly anxious to fund schools well, and given that, it does just fine. Actually better than fine. I was looking at moving to Chicago a while back, and found that to beat West -- for public schools, anyhow -- I'd have to send my kid to New Trier, where they spend twice the money per kid and everyone's having a heart attack every other minute about test scores. Oak Park, decidedly inferior.

You will not find a parent less worried than I am about the number of AP courses or the manicured-field acreage or the tech hooha. I do not give a damn about prizes and trophies. Here's what I care about: the kids' ability to get to and from school, the library, the librarians, the quality of the teachers, the ability of the teachers to spend adequate time with the students, the simultaneous openness and rigor of the curriculum, care in pruning homework so it doesn't consume the kids' lives, and the ability of kids from low-SES househoulds to connect with people who can put them on a path to what we used to call the middle class. I have been phenomenally impressed by some of the resources available at West, particularly the visual arts shops. We also live next to a large state university. I do not think we are wanting for resources at West.

I am actually much more concerned about resources and support at the elementary level all around the district.

In any case: please cool it with the east-west thing. It's a serious distraction and it's very, very long in the tooth.

Anonymous said...

"...4. Buildings schools is great for the local construction industry..."
What now? Seriously? Building me a multi-million dollar mansion is great for the local construction industry. I'd like to issue a bond of $5m for that, just a fraction of the school bond. Did you just say that is ridiculous? You are right that is ridiculous. We are not voting a bond to subsidize the local construction business. They can find their own business and the tax payers are not going to pour tax money into their pockets. That is socialism and it is stupid.

Are they really running out of things to say in support of the bond?

Anonymous said...

Amy, Tuyet was a steadfast opponent of the Ed Stone agenda, you're full of crap. Go back to the east side private FB pages you phony.

Anonymous said...

Amy, Tuyet was a steadfast opponent of the Ed Stone agenda, you're full of crap and a phony. I don't believe for one second you represent anyone from WHS.

Anonymous said...

With the iccsd student population spreading out geographically and now having three large high schools why are we still electing school board members at large rather than by district. There has always been disproportionate representation for the east side on the school board due to political influence, population and power in Iowa City. Many large districts and growing districts have switched to this model and I think it is time that we do too.

Anonymous said...

Anony 8:24 - not sure that's a well thought out plan seeing how districts would be assigned based on population per Iowa Code. That would mean Iowa City would get a disproportionate amount of seats in addition to having a leg up for any "at large" seats.

Anonymous said...

Currently North Liberty has zero representation on the board as far as directors living in North Liberty and that is unlikely to change with at large seats. We know that although Liebig lives in Iowa City he is speaking up for the needs of North Liberty. Chris Lynch lives in Coralville but he doesn't really advocate for Coralville's needs and wasn't elected to do so. Even if NL and Coralville each had one elected representative and Iowa City was broken into 3 areas each with a representative and 2 at large we would look much more balanced than what we currently have. Districts would not necessarily need to fall on city boundaries since school boundaries span across city boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Des Moines and Cedar Rapids school districts both have 7 member boards with 4 districts and 3 at-large. There is a very good reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

Yes, DM and CR are two districts we want to model our district after .... underachieving, shrinking enrollment, and closing schools. What you find in school boards with "districts" is that you get even more of the problem you are seeking to remedy .. namely, the us vs them mentality. People elected by districts have more of sense of desire to protect "their turf" and those that elected them. You also end up with a major problem if/when nobody from a district runs .. which is a real possibility. Last, and as expressed above, we are not a "balanced" district as far as population whereas CR and DM are. Here, you would end up with 3 from IC, 1 from NL/CV and 3 at large. If you add another district it would either end up falling another in the IC column or mostly IC with a little rural thrown in. Anyway you slice the pie you end up with even a more possibility of a IC dominated board ... one now with even more accountability to the "districts" that elected them.

amy said...

Any word on the number of petitions submitted?

Anonymous said...

From the one community fb site...BIG DAY for the GO bond! One Community. One Bond. delivered over 1,800 petition signatures to the district this afternoon to ensure the placement of the bond on the September 12th ballot! The current total of 2,300 signatures is well over the required minimum and shows the widespread support of the bond throughout the district! Thank you all for your help gathering signatures and for spreading the word as we work to #passthebond

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you 8:46 but 2300 signatures is not widespread support for the bond throughout the district. The school district first went to the PTOs to get signatures and many of them didn't want to help. A lot of parents didn't want to either.

The school district had to get school principals to practically beg people to sign. They told us signing didn't mean we supported the bond.

If signing the petition for the bond means people support it the school district shouldn't have used school employees and facilities to drum up signatures.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6/7/17 @ 1:13am---My comment (6/5/17 @8:46pm) was copied and pasted from the one community fb page as Amy had asked if they got all their signatures. I'm a hell no on the bond!!

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the bond passes if 2/3 of votes approve it. I think the yes votes are more motivated to vote because they have something to gain. I ask people around me and most of them say they'll vote no, but many won't bother to show up at all so I don't know what'll happen on voting day. What bothers me a lot is people in North Liberty are just not involved. There are a huge number of young families with little kids and if they all show up to vote, it'll turn the table overnight, literally.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 11:18.

11:33 The pro bond people need a 60% yes vote of those who vote to show up. If people don't want the bond or this one to pass, they need to show up to vote No.

Developers & investors & realtors wanting to sell houses who promote the bond will work hard and spend big bucks to get their yes voters to show up. They will spend most of their money focusing on business groups and people who are likely to show up. They will hand out absentee ballots.

Key is getting No voters to show up. Otherwise superintendent Murley gets the equivalent of a blank check for his laundry list to spend.

Anonymous said...

Is there a document somewhere that list the rooms at each high school with their square footage?