San Ramon Valley school enrollment expected to keep climbing

'The trends show, the growth is there. It's still coming," demographer says

The San Ramon Valley school district will continue to see its student population rise for at least the next seven years, according to its newest enrollment projections -- a turnabout from last year's figures, which estimated local school growth would begin to taper off after peaking in 2019.

District-wide enrollment is now expected to jump 8.3% between now and fall 2022 to a record high of approximately 34,800 students, according to the 268-page report created by Davis Demographics & Planning, Inc.

"Based on everything that the trends show, the growth is there. It's still coming," firm representative David Kaitz told the school board during a 35-minute presentation Tuesday evening in Danville.

San Ramon Valley schools have faced growing pains for decades.

The demographers cited enrollment increases every year since at least 1993 when the district had about 17,400 children. The local student population stood at 32,132 at the beginning of this school year.

The trend of continued growth was expected to hit its peak in fall 2019 before dipping slightly in 2020 and 2021, based on the seven-year projections Kaitz presented to the school board last year.

But this year's projections sing a different tune, instead predicting annual enrollment increases through at least the 2022-23 school year.

The demographers' new estimates are based on the latest data on local birth rates, students moving into new housing developments, and potential movement in and out of the district within existing homes, Kaitz said. The district plans to take the findings into account when developing strategies for future facility, staffing and program needs.

The enrollment report estimates that the district will see increases at all school levels between now and fall 2022, including a 7.3% increase at elementary schools, 4.2% at middle schools and 13% at high schools.

Elementary schools and middle schools are expected to see continued growth through fall 2022, climbing to 14,945 students and 7,989 students, respectively.

High school enrollment is estimated to peak in 2020 at about 11,050 students, before slightly dipping each of the following two years, reaching about 100 fewer students by fall 2022. Still, the district is projected to see a 1,300-student increase at high school level over the next seven years, with the vast majority of growth at San Ramon's two campuses, Kaitz noted.

"This is something that you and the district have known about, and we're just kind of pointing out the obvious to you," he said of the high school numbers. "The kids are coming, and it's just a matter of how you're going to address expanding those schools or housing those extra students."

Later in the meeting, board member Denise Jennison said that while the demographers' report states options to address growth, such as increasing campus capacity or instituting boundary changes, "the board has not had discussions about solutions."

"We're just looking at the numbers right now," she added. "And anything that is in writing in the report is just something that would be a general statement about how one might deal with this kind of situation, but it's nothing that this board has discussed or committed to."

At the school level

This year's report predicting ongoing elementary school growth represented a complete turnaround from last year's projections, which estimated elementary school enrollment would drop after 2014-15.

Last year's figures projected decreases at 17 of the district's 21 existing elementary campuses from fall 2014 to fall 2021. The latest projections estimate increases at 18 of the 22 elementary schools by 2022 -- incorporating the new Bella Vista Elementary School, set to open in the Dougherty Valley this fall.

Most elementary campuses are projected for increases of between a handful and several dozen students from now to 2022. All site-specific enrollment projections rely on existing school attendance boundaries.

The most significant gains are estimated at Green Valley Elementary in northeast Danville (137 students), John Baldwin Elementary in central Danville (203) and Twin Creeks Elementary in northwestern San Ramon (467). Twin Creeks' attendance area includes the planned Faria Preserve housing development.

Seeing significant drops are Live Oak (116 students), Quail Run (122) and Hidden Hills (346) in the Dougherty Valley -- with some of the relief brought by opening Bella Vista.

Seven more years of growth at the middle school level also represented a deviation from last year's enrollment projections, which estimated the student population would peak in fall 2017.

This year's report predicts seven of the eight middle schools will see enrollment increases from now to 2022.

Gale Ranch Middle School is projected to see a 208-student increase during that time-frame, but nearby Windemere Ranch expects to see a 392-student decrease. Iron Horse Middle School, also in San Ramon, is estimated to see the largest increase at 402 students.

At the high schools, this year's report predicts a peak in 2020 -- as did last year's report.

Still, the latest figures project that Dougherty Valley High will have 817 more students in 2022 than it does now, and California High's increase is projected at 575 students for that same time-frame.

Dougherty Valley could reach 3,600 students as soon as 2021 and Cal High could exceed 3,000 students by 2020, Kaitz said.

San Ramon Valley High's population is projected to dip by 108 students and Monte Vista High is estimated to increase by 12 students from now to 2022.

Contributing to the overall middle and high school growth is the fact the district finds itself in the middle of a population bubble, made up of students now enrolled in third through 11th grades, Kaitz said.

Enrollment study methodology

The firm's projection methodology incorporates birth rates, student-yield factors (how many students may arrive in new housing developments) and mobility factors (trying to account for students moving due to housing resales, foreclosures and renter relocation).

The demographers estimate the local birth rate will remain about the same overall over the course of the next seven years.

On development, Kaitz said they anticipated between 300-500 new housing units per year would be built and occupied over the next seven years

The firm estimated that every 100 new single-family detached homes would generate 97 new students combined across K-12 (a yield factor of 0.97). The student-yield factor for apartments was 0.61 and for multifamily attached (condos, townhouses and the like) was 0.81.

The demographers' data indicate the district's mobility rate has started lowering in recent years, Kaitz said.

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7 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2016 at 8:36 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Odd. The schools in Dougherty Valley area already at capacity and there is still a few hundred NEW houses yet to come online. Somebody made quite a big error with this 'master' planned community. Build it, they will come. But somebody forgot the schools.


10 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 15, 2016 at 1:03 am

I don't think anybody planned on the extended families occupying the homes as they are.

2 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:01 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Very doubtful 'extended' families made much of a difference. Been to Gale Ranch lately? The high density living kinda excludes having 'extended' families in same house. No, this is almost every single house has KIDS; why else move to being nearly on top of the schools. City, county and developers bad planning.


9 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 16, 2016 at 12:05 am

Yes I have been there and yes I have seen numerous instances of extended families living in the same residence.

4 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Perhaps you use 'extended' in a different sense then most? Extended geneally means parents live with their adult children, who have also had children. I really, really doubt grandparents in a house adds to the capacity issue of schools, aye? :)

Bottom line poor planning, bad variables and now the current children pay the price with over crowded schools. Bella Vista will help at the elementary level, but won't do squat for the middle and HS here.....
Can we say 'oops'?

Like this comment
Posted by Gopi
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:13 pm

This area offers the perfect combination of quality of life, manageable commute, reasonable housing cost and terrific diversity. No doubt its a magnet, we need to invest more in the education infrastructure.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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