Oct. 15, 2013

HPISD enrollment hits record 7,000

What are the ripple effects of the slow but steady influx of students? 
By Joe Taylor
HPISD Finance Officer
One of the questions we ask every fall is, "Are we still growing?" For many years, the answer has been "yes," swiftly followed by more questions ranging from, "Where are we going to put all these kids?" to "Will we be up to 5A?"
Today, I'd like to give you an enrollment overview that will answer these questions and give you a long-range view. Enrollment affects our students and our school community in so many ways. Let's tackle the information one question at a time:
Q: What is our 2013-14 enrollment?
A: As of Oct. 4, our enrollment is 7,022 students, compared with 6,848 in October of 2012. The chart below illustrates growth over the last 20 years:
Q: How does it break down by campus?
A: Here are the Oct. 4 figures: 

Q: Will we need to add on to our buildings?

A: There is no doubt that every campus is filled to capacity.
The funding supplied by the 2008 bond issue allowed us to add square footage and eliminate the portable classrooms. But our growing student population has already filled that space.
We want to plan carefully and intentionally for the future. And as more families flock to HPISD, we realize the need is immediate. 

Over the course of this school year, Superintendent Dr. Dawson Orr and a facilities committee will scrutinize our existing space and identify the potential for adding onto our existing buildings. The committee members will also examine the data from the demographic studies from 2010 and 2012. We will also honor the work of past facilities committees that have brainstormed about every possible scenario. Those ideas will be re-examined and built upon to design a plan for our future. We will update you and ask for your input as ideas and options emerge.

Q: How does enrollment growth affect funding?

A: The good news is that when enrollment grows, so does state funding. HPISD receives more state dollars with every new student. The bad news is that HPISD pays so much in recapture - typically about 70 percent, depending on the school year - that the new dollars are somewhat offset by the recapture payments. The growth also comes with the need to hire more teachers and add classroom space. Still, the enrollment increase does slightly help our financial position.

Q: Will HPISD be reclassified as 5A? 
(Note: This answer was updated to reflect the Dec. 2 announcement from the UIL).

A: Every two years, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) reclassifies districts across the state based on student enrollment. The UIL announced the realignment of conferences Dec. 2, based on the student enrollment snapshots that were reported Oct. 25.

Taking effect in 2014-15 through 2015-16, Highland Park High School will move up to the 6A classification. The move to 6A signifies moving up just one level under the UIL's new system. HPHS was previously 4A, the second-largest classification. But this year, the UIL introduced the new level of 6A (previously 5A) for large schools. This change will take effect for all UIL athletic, academic and fine arts competitions. 

The cutoff for 6A is 2,100 students, and HPHS's October enrollment snapshot was 2,106. Click here to see the cutoff numbers for all classifications. 

The change to 6A is not expected to affect Highland Park Middle School, as junior highs and middle schools set their own districts. 

In conclusion, I want to thank the members of our community for their strong interest in and support for our schools and our students. The excellence that is a hallmark here in HPISD is one of the reasons so many families choose this special community as their home.
As we sort through the many ripple effects of enrollment, we will continue to keep you updated.  

Note: This column was updated Dec. 12, 2013 following HPISD's School Board workshop on strategies for accommodating enrollment growth.
Joe Taylor was elected to the HPISD Board of Trustees in 2008. He currently serves as Board Finance Officer. This is the first in a series of columns that will be published this school year to keep the community informed. If you have questions about this column or suggestions for future columns, please contact me or email HPISD Communications Director Helen Williams at williah@hpisd.org.


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