Richfield School District projected to grow by 40 students next year

Grades kindergarten through 12 in the Richfield School District will grow by a total of 40 students next year, according to projections presented Monday, Dec. 17, to the Richfield School Board.

The projected increase, which District Business Manager Michael Schwartz termed “conservative,” shows a total K-12 enrollment of 4,428 for the 2013-14 school year.

The district’s all-important yet hard-to-predict kindergarten population should decline by 90 students, from 461 to 371, the projections say. That would reverse three years of steady growth, with the kindergarten population increasing by 124 students over that period.

From data sets of birth rates in Hennepin County over the previous 4 years and 10 years, the district’s K-12 enrollment is projected at 4,717 for the 2017-18 school year.

As recent history has shown, those projections can easily fall short, as the actual number of students walking the hallways has surpassed expectations. The district has increased enrollment by more than 100 students in each of the last three years including this one, but projections have never suggested an increase of more than 40 students, said Schwartz, who expects the annual spikes to “stabilize at some point.”

“I have a tendency to be conservative and have smaller numbers, to try to be realistic as possible,” Schwartz said, explaining that enrollment drives revenue and teacher hiring.

Should the projections fall short again, the district should have no problem adjusting staffing levels, Superintendent Robert Slotterback said.

“If, indeed, we do grow by 100 students, as many models say we will … realistically we’re able to find very good candidates right up until school starts,” he said.