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Enrollment in District 196 schools is up 462 students (1.6 percent) this year and could grow another 15 percent or more over the next 10 years, according to reports presented to the School Board in October.

The official October enrollment report is submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education each year to determine funding the district will receive from the state. The 2017 report shows there were 28,644 total students enrolled on Oct. 2 this year compared to 28,182 last year.

This is the fifth consecutive year of rising enrollment in District 196 following nearly a decade of slight enrollment declines. The 28,644 students this year represents the largest enrollment ever in the state’s fourth largest district; the previous peak was 28,572 students in the 2003-04 school year.

Demographic consultant Hazel Reinhardt told the School Board that district enrollment will continue to grow over the next 10 years, likely at an accelerated rate, driven by new housing development and an increase in the number of nonresident students choosing to attend District 196 schools.

Reinhardt, a former state demographer, was hired by the district earlier this year to review projections she made in 2012 and to develop new enrollment projections through the 2026-27 school year. Reinhardt’s projections for the last five years were nearly 1,200 students lower than the actual enrollment. She said this was due to data that underestimated kindergarten class sizes and a larger than expected increase in net in migration, which includes a combination of students moving into the district and an increase in enrollment by nonresident students.

“You are at the cusp of another age of development and substantial growth in your district,” Reinhardt said. “You are going to start to have kindergarten classes that are larger than the previous year’s graduating class and that is going to drive enrollment growth.”

By 2021, Reinhardt projects that District 196 enrollment will be in the range of 29,000 to 29,700 students, not including students enrolled in early childhood special education, center-based special education programs, the Area Learning Center or Adult Basic Education, which account for a combined 1,626 students in this year’s total enrollment. Ten years from now, she predicts that range will climb to 31,000 to 32,202 students, not including students enrolled in those same programs.

As part of her study, Reinhardt contacted planners at each of the cities that are part of the district. Based on their predictions for new development, Reinhardt said the district could have as many as 1,300 new, single-family detached homes in the next three years. The bulk of that development will take place in the south and eastern portions of the district, in Lakeville and Rosemount.

Earlier this year, the University of Minnesota announced plans to sell a 436-acre section of its nearly 4,800-acre UMore Park property in Rosemount. The university issued a request for proposals on land west and south of the Dakota County Technical College in July and hopes to sell the land to developers by the end of this year. Reinhardt predicts the UMore Park property will add 350 single-family homes and 60 detached townhomes to the district over the next three years. From 2021 to 2025, she said the area could bring an additional 1,200 single-family homes, 120 detached townhomes and 100 attached townhomes.

In addition to new development, Reinhardt said District 196 continues to enroll a high percentage of school-age students who live in the district. In 2016, the district had a “capture rate” of 86.2 percent of resident students compared to a statewide average of 77.4 percent. “You have a very high capture rate for a Twin Cities school district,” she said. “You continue to be a public school district of choice.”

Enrollment of nonresident students into District 196 has also increased steadily over the last decade, nearly tripling from the 814 nonresident students who open enrolled in 2007-08 to 2,258 students last year.

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