St. Charles District 303 planning enrollment, capacity studies

St. Charles Unit School District 303 is planning a detailed enrollment study and a facility capacity study to ensure the district is using its buildings efficiently.

The district's board of education last week approved hiring a demographer that will do both an enrollment study and a capacity study as part of efforts to develop a comprehensive long-range Educational Facilities Master Plan.

RSP & Associates proposes to do the enrollment study at a cost of $22,000 and the capacity study at a cost of $27,650. Other proposals just for the enrollment study ranged from $16,000 to $19,700.

"In all the conversations that we've had with these demographers, RSP really rose to the top in terms of their detail and what they include in their process," Justin Attaway, the district's assistant superintendent for business services, told school board members Aug. 1.

That includes independent data collection and analysis and the inclusion of student demographic data in the analysis, he said. In addition, RSP was the only firm that offered a capacity study that could be paired with the enrollment study, Attaway said.

As proposed, RSP would complete the capacity analysis in September or October and the enrollment analysis in October or November. Plans are for RSP to present the data and analysis to the board in January.

An educational facility planning committee, comprised of community and staff members, has been working to develop a comprehensive long-range Educational Facilities Master Plan. The last time the plan was updated was 2008.

The committee has been looking at priorities such as ensuring that all learning spaces within the district are equal; accommodating educational programming needs at each of the buildings; addressing accessibility issues in some of the district's buildings; and addressing or improving students' safety and security across the district.

Superintendent Paul Gordon has talked about the importance of using a demographer to help the district plan for the future.

"We critically need that demographer to come in and really give us a deep analysis of where we are going, what we are doing and how that student enrollment is not only going to look today, but also tomorrow," Gordon said during the school board's retreat July 9.

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