The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 1, 2008

Enrollment projections will shape Carlisle School building project

The Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) is working with experts and state officials to find the best long-term enrollment estimate to use in calculating space needs, from among three 10-year estimates that differ by roughly 50%. The committee met on July 24 to report its progress and to update the project timeline for replacement of the Spalding Building. Committee chair Lee Storrs noted that two subcommittees have been meeting this summer. One subcommittee has been clarifying the educational plans for the new building including space needs and requirements, while the second subcommittee has focused on work toward hiring the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM).

Space needs and enrollment

The Education Plan Subcommittee held a conference call recently with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to determine projected enrollment statistics. Also taking part in the conference call was John Kennedy of the New England School Development Council (NESDC), a firm which has provided enrollment projections for the Carlisle School for over 20 years. The projected enrollment statistics will be used as the basis for determining the overall size and space requirements of the new building.

The MSBA uses the cohort survival statistical method to project enrollment. This method projects a total enrollment of approximately 412 students in the year 2017 (10-year projection). NESDC uses an adjusted cohort survival method to project an enrollment of 494 in 10 years.

The Carlisle School Building Committee presented enrollment projection work done by John Ballantine which projects total enrollment of 600 to 700 students by that same year. In a later phone call, Ballantine explained that the cohort survival model is based on birthrate. The number of births in town is used to project the enrollment in kindergarten six years later. As a result of work done for the Growing Pains report (see Mosquito, June 18,1999), Ballantine recognized that families who move into town after their children are born account for an additional 20 students per year (approximate) at the kindergarten level. The actual number of children who move into town is monitored and used to modify the cohort survival model. Ballantine added, “I feel comfortable, based on the data that we have, with a projection of 600 to 700 students.”

The School Building Committee noted that the unmodified cohort survival method has been historically inaccurate when applied to the Carlisle School and that Ballantine’s projections have been conservative in the past. They agreed that to build the right school, the committee must be confident in the enrollment projections. For this reason, Ballantine will review his model and projections and another discussion will be held with the MSBA.

Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman stated that it is important to try to get an accurate picture of future enrollment. “None of us has a crystal ball, but we need to make as informed a decision as we can.” She noted that enrollment is cyclic in nature and the town needs to avoid the pitfall of building for a temporary enrollment drop, given that, “The MSBA does not want us to ‘come to the well’ for another 20 years.”

Project manager search

The Request for Services (RFS) for OPM had been redrafted and posted. Requests for the RFS were received from 33 firms. On July 10, eighteen firms attended the mandatory site-walk meeting and by 2 p.m. on July 21, six firms had submitted RFS applications. RFS applications submitted by two additional firms were received after the deadline and therefore rejected.

Members of the OPM subcommittee met on Sunday, July 27 and approved a short list of four firms. The subcommittee will conduct interviews with those firms on August 4 and 5.

The committee updated the order in which the next phase of work will be done. Interviews with the short list of firms for OPM will take place on August 4 and 5 and enrollment projections will be finalized within two weeks, assuming agreement can be reached with the MSBA. The educational plan will then be adjusted using the accepted enrollment projections and finalized with input from the full committee. The committee hopes to have the educational plan ready to submit to the MSBA by the end of August.

The committee will meet again on August 7. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito