Superintendent’s Blog - January 31, 2023
QUESTION: I am concerned about the closure of schools that might affect children and families near me. Numbers are low right now, but does it make sense to close a school only then to open another school if enrollment increases?
ANSWER: Thanks for this question. Population and enrollment projections involve quite a bit of study and research. We’ve contracted with demographic firms to study our city and district and give us population projections. They considered everything from birth rates to affordable housing. You can see the historical student population in a board report we shared at the last board meeting. You’ll note that enrollments are projected to continue to decline, although there is a sense that our student population will stabilize over the next five to ten years. Since most areas of the city are built out, and the community infill apartment projects bring in people but very few students, there is no indication that student populations will increase significantly across the district. It may happen in a few areas perhaps, and we’ll be prepared to address growth in specific areas when that need arises.
The board is considering the issue of school size – different from class size, by the way – carefully to determine what parameters should influence the decision. As you will also see from the report (linked above), there is great consensus that elementary students and their families have the best educational experience when there are at least three teachers per grade level. I encourage you to look at, and consider, those points carefully.
In February, the Board will hear a presentation on elementary schools to consider for possible boundary realignment and/or closure. The list will include schools in groups, because we know that a change at one school will also impact neighboring schools. From there, this important issue will be studied thoroughly, public comment will be solicited, and community meetings will be held to make sure the Board has all the information they need to make the best choices for our current and future students.
The process and timeline we are using to carefully and comprehensively study these issues is detailed in Salt Lake City School District Board Policy G-5: District Reconfigurations & Long-Term School Closures. We are also in the process of creating a webpage dedicated to our population and boundary study. Please check this page frequently. We will keep it updated with more information as we progress down this road.