No one can predict the future, but Olentangy Local Schools is very accurate when it comes to projected vs. actual enrollment — and this is critical. As one of the largest and fastest growing districts in the state, accuracy is everything.
As of September 5, 2018, Olentangy Local Schools has 21,062 enrolled students (not including Pre-K). That’s only 22 more students than what was projected back on November 9, 2017, and the district has reason to believe future projections will be just as precise.
With the help of a financial and demographic planning consultancy, the district has been able to correctly predict growth within 1 percent for the past several years, allowing for sound financial planning and a legitimate forecast of the need for additional school buildings. In 10 years (not including Pre-K), the student population is projected to grow to 25,991, and by 2033/2034 it is anticipated to reach 28,258 students.
It’s no surprise that overall population growth in Delaware County impacts Olentangy’s enrollment rates. According to a report by Ohio Development Services, Delaware County can expect 1.75 percent annual increase in total population growth for the next 5 years and steady growth until 2045. Delaware County is projected to reach more than 210,000 people by 2020 and more than 281,000 by 2045.
That data, combined with district projections, shows a need for more school buildings within the next 10 years. Currently, the district is addressing elementary school overcrowding by building 18 additional classrooms onto three existing school buildings. However, the swelling elementary student population will make it necessary for the district to build two new elementary schools within the next 10 years, plus one additional elementary school by 2033/2044.
“Fiscal responsibility is essential when operating a district this size. We are careful with the budget and we maintain our resources in an efficient and responsible manner,” says Mark Raiff, Superintendent, Olentangy Local School District. “We also offer a great education at a low cost, as we spend less per pupil than the state average. Additionally, we are the least funded district in the state of Ohio in the current school funding model. We make it a priority to go to the voters only when it’s absolutely necessary, and that time is quickly approaching.”
To support elementary school growth, the district is likely to place an issue on the ballot in 2020. Capacity at the district’s five middle schools is projected to be adequate until 2024, and with the addition of Olentangy Berlin High School this past year, high school capacity is projected to be adequate for the foreseeable future.