Bakersfield City SD was grappling with school capacity challenges and looked to DI for a better understanding of how to understand enrollment, school capacity and staffing within their changing communities.
BCSD, a large K-8 district one hundred miles north of Los Angeles was grappling with school capacity challenges. BCSD is like most school districts that delay uprooting school communities and creating the political fall out of modifying school boundaries until student and financial needs demand change. With their changing communities and shifting student enrollment, the impact of past desegregation that created some non-contiguous elementary and middle school boundaries, and new housing development, the district was experiencing several issues:
- the loss of a neighborhood school concept and an aligned feeder school system;
- some schools that were over capacity and some that were under capacity;
- costly student bus transportation impacting the general fund; and
- the need to identify boundaries for a new elementary school and new middle school opening in less than two years.
Manage a process that builds community support for the district and Board’s action to change and transition to school boundaries that addresses the issues listed and best meets the needs of all students.
Resources Needed: Gathering data and displaying and analyzing boundary options with data are critical to a successful process including:
- Reliable ten-year student enrollment projections for existing schools
- Accurate school capacities based on potential class sizes for different grade levels
- The technology to draw multiple school boundaries and extract geographic area ten-year student enrollment projections for each new boundary under consideration
- The technology to graphically display current and potential new boundaries overlaid on street maps, distances, where students reside, where new development impacts schools, and how feeder schools align
- The technology to consolidate all data and boundary scenario visuals into PowerPoint slides that can be used with district staff, boundary advisory committees, parent forums, and the Board of Education throughout the change process
- Support of an educator having experienced similar issues and process with other districts.
BCSD contracted with DecisionInsite to utilize our technology, enrollment analytics and consulting expertise. DI staff provided access to the DI website for enrollment projections, school capacity and staffing analysis, other significant reports and data, and SchoolLocator. A DI Senior Consultant worked with district leadership and the district’s boundary advisory committee throughout the boundary development and proposal process to provide the resources needed and listed above, and the experience of working with other school districts through similar activities.
Based on the BCSD staff’s work and recommendation, their Board of Trustees was able to take action and come to a successful conclusion on their boundary change process with critical buy-in and support from their parent community. Viable new school boundaries were created for the new elementary and new middle schools. Neighborhood schools were restored to their communities by reducing the number of schools with non-contiguous boundaries to one elementary school and one junior high school. The need for student bus transportation was significantly reduced. Feeder K-5 schools to 6-8 middle schools were aligned, and feeder K-6 schools to 6-8 and 7-8 middle schools and junior high schools were aligned.