Instead of relying on the standard, district-wide enrollment data, incorporate forecasts that tell you where in your district students are projected to live, allowing you to make the most informed decisions possible about your future student population.

(BONUS!) Obtaining detailed enrollment forecasts and understanding how the data relates to your district’s current capability to accommodate the student population will set you up for success when helping the public understand why they should pass your bond or levy. They’ll clearly see the future potential for growth and the justifiable need for new schools and reconfigured attendance areas.

Tip 2: Nail down your school siting criteria
If you need to site new schools with the bond or levy funds you have secured or plan to secure through a successful campaign, don’t decide where to build until you consider:

  • Your community’s values, like walkability and proximity to public transportation
  • Where your future student population is likely to reside
  • Land parcel size and location requirements
  • Environmental constraints
  • Your community’s zoning regulations

Once you’ve compiled that information, you can look at potential properties in your district that meet your criteria. You can then create a prioritized property list, use it to efficiently compare siting options, and confidently make your siting decisions.
Also, consider creating a school siting committee made up of district representatives and community members to provide feedback about potential locations for new schools. Getting community buy-in about the siting criteria will increase transparency around how the location of new schools was determined and make the community feel like their tax dollars are being well spent.

Tip 3: Be prepared for school attendance area boundary adjustments
Once you’ve picked the best site for your new schools, start getting ready for a school attendance area boundary review. Boundary reviews are often contentious and stressful for the district and the community, so the more thoughtful planning you can do prior to beginning the review process, the better. I recommend a consensus-based and data-driven approach to mitigate most opportunities for tension between your district and the community. Good data will be easy to incorporate since you already did a lot of the legwork when you created your long-term facilities plan.

To engage the community, be transparent, ensure buy-in throughout the boundary review, and develop a plan to collect feedback on what the community feels is important when it comes to school district boundaries. Feedback can come via open houses, stakeholder focus groups, or online surveys. Once responses are in, analyze them for common themes and create a list of core community values you can use to inform how boundaries are redrawn.

About the Author:

Tyler Vick manages the operations and GIS service offerings at FLO Analytics, a firm that works with school districts to provide enrollment forecasting, school siting, boundary updates, and other data-driven planning services.