Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

Consultant firm foresees growth

August 3, 2006

Growth will necessitate a new elementary school in the district by the end of the decade, according to a report by RSP & Associates LLC.

Last March, the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education commissioned RSP to conduct a growth study of the district. The aim of the study was to first see where the district's students are, how the district might expand and eventually help guide facility planning as the district expands.

At the July 13 meeting, the board got answers.

Rob Schwartz presented the report to the board lining out his company's research, which encompassed work with officials both within the city and Douglas and Leavenworth counties.

"Ultimately in the short term, the amount of infrastructure is going to determine how much development you can see," Schwartz said.

Eudora's current infrastructural issues will lead to a slowdown in growth, Schwartz said.

But if a proposed expansion of Lawrence Memorial Hospital opens, and when the Tonganoxie interchange project links Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 10, the district could find increased pressure from developers.

According to the report: "This pressure if not closely monitored as to how it will affect student enrollment and capacity at each facility, has the possibility in the district not being prepared for enrollment increases."

RSP & Associates used information gleaned from the various officials, census data and building permits to map out for the board the district's population layout.

"This is going to be a critical component when we get into the planning stage," Schwartz said.

Schwartz' company originally planned to present its findings at the board's June meeting, but because of past records showing post office boxes for students ---- as opposed to addresses ---- the findings were delayed.

Schwartz pointed to 2003 as a threshold year for growth. In 2003, the district had a kindergarten class of 113 students. The year before, the district had 58 and the highest incoming class in the previous 10 years was in the 1995-1996 school year when the district had 93 kindergarten students.

"Basically, you're going to see continued growth," Schwartz said.

In addition to mapping growth areas for the district ---- which expands across the city limits ---- RSP also provided the district with projected enrollment tables.

According to the report, the majority of growth will hit the elementary schools first, which will lead to capacity issues.

Graphs drafted by RSP show Nottingham Elementary School and Eudora Middle School have already reached capacity ---- an issue alleviated by the introduction of mobile units ---- and Eudora West Elementary will hit its peak capacity during the 2008-2009 school year.

"We really have one great set of numbers to work with," Schwartz said.

Eudora High School won't reach capacity within the next five years, the report showed.

Capacity issues make it necessary for the district to expand with a new elementary during the 2008-2009 school year.

RSP's findings dovetailed with the district's preliminary bond timeline. If a bond referendum -- now set for 2008 -- passes, a new elementary school and an expansion of the Eudora Middle School is planned for the 2010-2011 school year.

"I think this is good information," board member Kenny Massey said.

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