Monday, September 14, 2015

Falls Church Schools are Growing – MORE SLOWLY than Predicted

There has been a bit of a hullabaloo in the last week about the record student enrollment at Falls Church City Schools.  However, the “record” enrollment doesn’t really tell you very much.  I decided to do the unpopular thing and look at the data.  In fact, Falls Church Schools are growing, but more slowly than predicted.

The actual number of enrolled students is 2517 (not 2515, if I read the numbers correctly) according to the published data.  FCCPS Enrollment DataThat is the largest enrollment ever – a record.  However, it includes 58 pre-K students at Jessie Thackrey Preschool.  Not counting those students, there are only 2459 enrolled students right now, which is still a record but only about 2% growth from last year’s official enrollment of 2410 for K-12.  And the growth over two years for K-12 is only a bit over 3%.

That is substantially less growth than had been predicted.  The University of Virginia and FCCPS had predicted 2505 enrolled students in K-12 in 2015, which is a predicted growth rate (about 4%) around twice the actual rate (about 2%).  The FCCPS statement that the enrollment of 2517 (or 2515) “nearly mirrors UVA-Weldon Cooper Estimates of 2,505 students” is mistaken, because the UVA-Weldon Cooper predictions do not include preschool students.  So our predictive ability regarding enrollment may be less than advertised.  It’s important to keep that in mind because UVA predicts 44% growth in enrollment by 2029, and that figure is very important in deciding how big the high school and middle school should be. 

These numbers could change, of course.  There may and likely will be some additional students by the “official” count date of September 30.   The two new multi-unit buildings being completed in Falls Church will add students.  But let’s all look at the data together when making decisions together as a community about our future. 

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