5 Things Districts Can Do to Keep Ahead of Population Changes — and Avoid Enrollment, Planning and Budgetary Disasters
As Nashville continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, school districts in the region must keep up with the population changes – especially when considering how to adjust their planning and resources. Today, Metro Nashville Public Schools must grapple with dramatic shifts in enrollment— particularly as some regions of the city see schools literally “bursting at the seams” while others see multi-year trends downward.This is a challenge Brian Eschbacher, former Executive Director of Planning and Enrollment for Denver Public Schools (DPS), knows well. In The74, Eschbacher explains how he helped the district weather complex population changes brought about by an enrollment boom, and what other school districts can learn:
During my seven years as executive director of planning and enrollment services for Denver Public Schools, our urban district was among the fastest-growing in the country, gaining more than 20,000 students over 10 years. Since 2017, that trend has slowed, with growth continuing in some neighborhoods but not others. But our team was well-positioned to deal with these changes because of a series of strategies that allowed us to detect, assess and respond to changes in the student population proactively.
Unfortunately, too many large districts lack the tools to respond nimbly to complex population trends. They can take a cue from Denver and other cities by adopting five practices that can prevent unforeseen enrollment, planning and budgetary disasters. More often than not, districts with these systems in place have adopted versions of the portfolio strategy for district management, with autonomous, accountable schools, equitable parent-choice systems, and a central office that focuses on quality assurance, support and high-level strategic planning rather than day-to-day school decisions. But any district can consider adopting some or all of these strategies, whether or not the “portfolio” model is in place.
Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images