By Diana Whittle
A drop in enrollment for Kyrene schools appears poised to begin a reversal, due to a stronger birth rate and more turnover in neighborhoods, according to a new update.
Data presented to the Governing Board was gathered by Rick Brammer of Applied Economics, a consulting firm that specializes in school population projects, economic development and economic and fiscal-impact assessment.
He assembles his statistics based on various resources, such as numbers from the Census and the Department of Urban Development.
Brammer, who has tracked the district since 1988, says that while the recession caused a decline in birth rates, the number is reversing and in-district enrollment is likely to rebound over the next 10 years, as owners become empty nesters and decide to move away.
While in-district enrollments have gone down by nearly 5,000 students, since reaching a peak in 2000, nearly 4,000 out-of-district students chose to attend Kyrene schools, the numbers indicate. Coincidentally, this number of students is equally offset by school-age kids whose families chose other providers.
“For the most part, Kyrene has demonstrated a strong resistance to the charter schools in the area,” said Brammer. “The big exception was when Basis opened in Ahwautukee for the 2013-14 school year.
“One big challenge with the charters is planning, because you never know what is next and if a new one will open.”
On the reverse, if a charter school closes, Kyrene is legally bound to make a place for any such displaced students in a Kyrene school.
In spite of these issues, Kyrene has retained its reputation for excellence in education, says Brammer.
“I work with about 20 Arizona-based school districts during the year and many of them are experiencing declining enrollment, which is not balanced by the out-of-district attendance like it is in Kyrene. This is a real testament to the continued success of this district,” said Brammer.
Over the years, social changes have impacted enrollment numbers, explained Brammer.
“Tempe is nearly built out and the only area in the district that will probably grow is west of 19th Avenue, and that may include multi-family housing, which is usually for renters. I project only about 3,000 new housing units to be constructed over the next 10 years.”
Other changes include the racial make-up of the student population, which has followed the growth trends of the state.
While White is still the predominant race in the district, at 70 percent, significant changes include eight percent Asian students, more than 14 percent Hispanic and another five percent African American.
Since the district’s boundaries melt into the nearby reservation, Kyrene also has nearly two percent enrollment of Native Americans. The remaining one percent of students classify themselves as being “other” or of mixed race.
Many elementary schools in the Wrangler News readership area continue to attract strong in-district attendance, particularly Niños and Norte, which both offer dual language programs. At the middle school level, the most in-district students are found at Pueblo in west Chandler.