Birmingham Schools to Study Student Enrollment, Building Capacity
According to Superintendent Daniel Nerad, the study is to determine whether Birmingham Public Schools "has a problem, and if we have a problem, what should we do about it."
Is your child's classroom overcrowded? Do you feel like there are classes spilling out of every open room at your child's school?
Those are the types of questions Birmingham Public Schools is looking to answer as they embark on a study on enrollment and building capacities across the district.
The school district will be working on updating its strategic plan this spring and Superintendent Daniel Nerad told the Birmingham Board of Education at their Nov. 13 meeting that the school district wants to assess the current state of its buildings ahead of the planning process.
"I think it's important that we just have a snapshot of everything at this stage in the game," Nerad said, adding "(This is) to understand if we have a problem, and if we have a problem, what should we do about it?"
"What do we do when we face schools that are at capacity or beyond capacity," Nerad asked. "In no way am I saying those will be easy answers. But this study will allow us to understand."
The study is headed up by Debbie Piesz, the district's assistant superintendent for business services. During the next few weeks, Piesz and her team will be looking at class sizes across the district, code issues, section sizes at the high school level and every classroom in every school.
Enrollment numbers at Birmingham Public Schools have risen and fallen at a steady pace in recent years — climbing in 2011-12 though district spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson siad enrollments are projected to drop by 4.6 percent by 2016.
According to a mid-year report presented to the school board in late March, Wilkinson said the 2011-12 winter count was 8,340 — up 0.7 percent from the year before.
Meanwhile, the headcount for fall 2012 was 8,398 — up from around 8,318 in fall 2011.
The biggest increase, Wilkinson said, are and will continue to be in the pre-kindergarten population, with a 13 percent increase expected in the next four years.
At the same time, Birmingham Public Schools is expected to lose 130 students by the 2014-15 school year, a drop expected to be reflected across the state, Wilkinson said, becuase of birth rate trends.
According to Nerad, the results of the study will be presented to the school board at their Dec. 18 meeting.