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CCA’s latest enrollment projections show more students, and more buildings

OXFORD– Rob Schwarz, CEO of RSP, an educational planning firm under contract to the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District, got right to the point.
“Surprise, surprise, you’re enrollment is going to continue to increase, and it’s going to continue to increase at a rate greater than what we saw last year,” he said.
Schwarz presented the 2018/2019-enrollment analysis to the school board of directors Monday, March 4, in a special work session at Clear Creek Elementary (CCE) in Oxford. RSP has provided tracking and forecasting of enrollment trends for the district for several years with an accuracy percentage in the high 90s.
The continued growth is attributed to increases in housing developments within the district, particularly on the east side (North Liberty, Coralville and Tiffin) with “significant areas of vacant land, that when they are developed, will have a drastic (increase) effect on future enrollment,” Schwarz said.
RSP is projecting a gain of 600 elementary (pre-kindergarten through fifth grade) students over the next five years, with an annual increase between 80-146 children. The middle school, located in Tiffin, is forecast to see 243 more students over the same period with an annual gain of 1-95 while the high school (also in Tiffin) is expected to see an increase of 300 students with growth of 40-86 per year. Overall, RSP is predicting the district to grow by 1,143 students over the next five years with 170-296 new students expected each year across all grade levels.
“We also know there’s going to be capacity challenges as we move forward, but the good thing is, the decisions that your community has supported with your bond referendum, and the new elementary opening up; everything’s happening at a really nice pace,” he said. Voters approved a $36 million bond issue in 2017, which is financing the construction of Oak Hill Elementary in Tiffin. The school is on schedule to open in August and will serve fourth and fifth-grade students who otherwise would have attended North Bend Elementary (NBE) in North Liberty or Tiffin Elementary (TE). The bond also is paying for several projects at CCE, including a new and more secure entrance, an enlarged and renovated kitchen and demolition and replacement of the gym (with a storm shelter incorporated into the design). This project is slated to begin a year from now with completion in November, 2020. A second addition to the high school, which will increase capacity to 1,200, is also included within the bond, and is currently set to be completed in the fall of 2022.
The capacity challenges Schwarz alluded to affect NBE and TE in particular as well as the district overall. RSP noted North Bend is already above its “instructional capacity,” which is the ideal number of students in the building. NBE has an instructional capacity of 425 and a “structural capacity” (the maximum number of students the building can safely hold) of 525. NBE hit 458 students last year and is at 484 this year.
With the opening of Oak Hill, the enrollment is forecast to drop back to 386 for the 2019-2020 school year, but is expected to creep back up to 436 in the 2023-2024 academic year.
Tiffin Elementary has an instructional capacity of 450 and a structural capacity of 550 with a 2017-18 enrollment of 448 and a current total of 481. TE will also see a drop with the opening of Oak Hill to 353 next fall, but will steadily increase again. Tiffin Elementary is forecast to serve 455 students in 2021, 520 in 2022 and 596 in 2023. District-wide, RSP predicts elementary space at all five buildings to hit the instructional capacity in 2021, and predicts the high school will exceed its instructional capacity (currently at 900) in 2023.
Overall RSP is expecting the district to have 3,731 kindergarten-through high school students in 2023-24, with the kindergarten through third grade population representing the largest growth, setting up a multi-year wave which will move through the district impacting the middle school and eventually the high school. The district has a tentative long-range plan for yet another elementary school (with all elementaries including Oak Hill being kindergarten through third buildings), a fourth-fifth-grade center (likely in the current middle school) a sixth-eighth middle school (in the current high school) and a new and larger ninth-12th high school.
A potential source for CCA’s enrollment increases in the next decade is Coralville’s West Land Use Area, which is primed for explosive development and falls within the district’s boundaries. The area is just south of Forevergreen Road, bordered by Coral Ridge Avenue (Hwy. 965) on the east and Interstate 380 on the west, and goes as far as Interstate 80 on the south covering both sides of US Highway 6. The school board held a joint meeting with the City of Coralville on Wednesday, March 6, to update the city on district-wide projects, and learn about the city’s plans and projects. City Administrator Kelly Hayworth briefed the board on the area in general and went in-depth regarding two residential developments planned for the Land Use Area.
The larger of the two, Ridgeview, will cover 103 acres and contain 943 dwelling units ranging from single-family homes (60) to a trio of 88-unit apartments. The population just within this development has been estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 by the time it is fully built-out within the next six to seven years.
The smaller, by far, of the two is Red Hawk, which is sited closer to Oakdale and will consist of 10 36-unit buildings, all multi-family in nature. Hayworth noted Red Hawk will have its own community building, a pond, trails and green space. Five buildings are slated to be completed in the development this year with the bulk set to be built next year. Hayworth noted this development, unlike Ridgeview, might not be a “high yield” for new students for the school district. He added the city already has set aside a parcel of land, which could accommodate an elementary school in the in the Ridgeview development and added the city would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the district on projects which would be mutually beneficial to both entities while saving money for both in the process.
While the district has looked at potential sites for a new high school, it has not taken action on any land for either a high school or elementary site.