This weekend, I ran into another educator who lives in Eastern Oregon. He shared with me that their neighbors were moving to Corbett in a few months because of the “great school system” in Corbett. Stories like this prompted me to investigate our district’s resident population statistics. I examined two metrics; I looked at the number of resident students who are transferring out of district and the total number of resident students.
How has our K-12 transfer-out rate changed over time?
Out of district transfers are students who have made a request to leave Corbett School District to attend another district. I was able to collect data for every year as far back as 2000-01 The data is depicted in the following graph.
What stands out is that our transfer out rate is at an all time low. Less than 1% of our resident population has requested a transfer to another district this year.
But what has happened to our K-12 resident population over that same time period?
From 1998-99 to 2007-08 our resident population remained fairly static. Some years were up, some years were down but it hovered near 540 resident students. However, for the last 4 years things have been different. The following graph depicts our resident population over the last 4 years with 532 residents students we had in 2008-09 being the base year for comparison sake.
Over the last four years our resident population has increased by nearly 25% percent to 663! In fact, since I made this graph last week, another new family moved into town so we may be over 25%.
Why are we seeing this sudden change in our resident k-12 student population?
This is a great question and one that needs further research. However, many attribute the new growth to three factors. First, young families are moving to the area because of a desire to be part of the Corbett community and a desire to have their students attend Corbett Schools. Second, this demand has prompted some limited construction of new homes in Corbett which are often being purchased by young families. Finally, many residents of Corbett are aging out of their homes. When existing homes are put onto the market they are being snatched up by young families.
What does a growth rate like this mean for Corbett School District?
The growth rate we have been experiencing for four years now is so significant it prompted me to make some projections about our resident population. These are just initial projections, and ultimately we will do a more thorough analysis by examining demographic shifts across the area, so please consider these projections “talking points”.
The graph displays two projections of our resident population based upon our current growth rate of 6.25% and a more modest growth rate of 3%. As you can see, if the growth rate of the last four years continues for the next decade we could have more than 1200 resident students. Even at a growth rate of 3% we could have close to 900 resident students 10 years from now. Keep in mind that these projections are meant to start a conversation, not be a definitive statement. However as a conversation starter they are thought provoking projections!
What does this mean for the future?
These initial projections have to be taken into account when assessing our facilities. Currently, our facilities are operating at what I consider to be near maximum levels from an educational standpoint. (Technically, the facilities can hold far more students than we currently have, but educationally I feel we are at a tipping point. For more information on the actual capacity of our facilities you can read an article I wrote in September by clicking here
Further analysis of our facilities is in order, not only because of our projected resident growth but also because some of our facilities, particularly the middle school building, have exceeded their useful life. The middle school building is more than 90 years old now and is showing its age.
A thoughtful analysis of current facilities will include examining how we are currently using our facilities to determine if we are using them to the maximum benefit of current Corbett resident students. Further, a thoughtful analysis of current facilities use will also include a realistic look at the projected needs of future Corbett resident students and the ability of our current facilities to meet those needs.
The process of analyzing our facilities will be a long one that will involve school staff, the School Board, volunteers and the community at large. I look forward to working with all of you as we plan for and prepare for the future of Corbett School District.