East Grand enrollment forecast raises concern over future development
Officials believe development data for Fraser Valley is inaccurate, which could skew future decisions
Local officials raised concerns about East Grand School District’s demographics and school enrollment forecast report, claiming the report doesn’t accurately reflect development in the Fraser and Winter Park areas.
Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail, Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino and Grand Park developer Clark Lipscomb challenged the number of planned new residential units within the Fraser Valley that is cited in the demographics report at the East Grand School District Board meeting Tuesday night.
“These numbers, to me, seem like they’re not complete,” Vandernail said. “There are huge subdivisions that are not even represented in my town. There’s thousands of units that aren’t accounted for.”
The demographics report, which is being used by the school district to develop a new master plan, found that over 3,100 new units are planned to be developed in the Fraser Valley through 2025 and states that enrollment at Fraser Valley Elementary School will be impacted by the housing growth.
However, the report also states Fraser Valley Elementary is the only school in the district that isn’t expected to go over optimum capacity based on the enrollment forecast.
Cimino explained that his concern stems from the fact that the report will be utilized in deciding funding and allocating resources and if it includes inaccurate numbers then future decisions could be misinformed.
“We are all one school district and I want to make sure that we build appropriately and I’d hate to find a future where we’re sitting with different populations than were forecasted,” he said.
East Grand School Board member Mike McGinley agreed that the school district wants the report to be accurate. However, he added that just because more development is in the works in Fraser and surrounding areas, doesn’t mean that more families and children will be living there.
“Obviously, we would like to know all the information too,” McGinley said. “I understand (development) numbers, but I want to hear from the demographer how those numbers reflect where the children are going to be at.”
Lipscomb pushed back at that, noting that 51 percent of residential properties within the school district is in the Fraser Valley.
“You need to be putting schools where they belong, where the growth is,” he said. “That kind of growth is going to continue as more affordable housing is brought on in the upper Fraser Valley, where a large majority of this county has jobs, and they’re going to move to that end.”
Vandernail said the report does not account for several developments, including the town’s proposed Mill Avenue apartments or the Morningstar subdivisions planned for unincorporated Grand County near Fraser.
Also, much of the planned development in the Fraser Valley is restricted to local and workforce housing, Vandernail emphasized, which likely means hundreds of new full time residents in the valley that would impact the school need.
“Fraser and Winter Park are trying to solve our housing problem, for employee housing, in our towns and it seems like there’s a disconnect in we’re trying to stop busing all of our employees from (Granby), but yet we want to bus all of our kids over here,” he said.
Frank Reeves, superintendent for East Grand, said the district has seen rapid growth at all of the schools, so conversations about the future of the district are ongoing.
“As we move forward we have to address our most current needs concerning our facilities and ability to maintain and deliver the best education possible to our students,” Reeves said. “As a district we will continue to work with all communities to make sure that we are addressing our urgent needs as well as planning for our long term needs.”
According to the report, the factors considered in forecasting enrollment are birth rates, population growth expectations, immigration, expected growth for school-aged population, job growth, economic development, housing and future land development.
Ultimately, McGinley said the board will reach out to the author of the report to invite him to a school board meeting to have him discuss his process and make sure the information is accurate.
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