Green and growing — the MPS demographics study

Recently, Marshall Public Schools had a demographics study completed. The district asked Hazel Reinhardt, a former State demographer for Minnesota, to conduct the study to determine how the district enrollment will look during the next 10 years. The study was very informative and indicated that Marshall Public Schools and the community need to start planning for a future of growth.

Using a comprehensive approach and process, the demographer presented that over the next 10 years, Marshall Public Schools enrollment will grow between 18.6 percent and 23.3 percent. The enrollment increases are projected to increase at all levels of the district primary, middle school, and the high school.

A key element of any growth projection is the level of confidence in the projection. There are several factors that reinforce the level of confidence in the projection report.

First, the kindergarten classes in Marshall Public Schools have been larger than in the past. The increased kindergarten enrollments provide growth throughout the entire school system as the students age and advance through the school system. For example, in 2004-05, the kindergarten class enrollment for Marshall was 134 students. However, in 2013-14, the Marshall kindergarten class size has grown to 184 students.

Another factor contributing to the level of confidence is the overall increased market share for Marshall Public Schools. Over the last several years, there has been an increased number of local residents choosing Marshall Public Schools for the educational experience for their children. However, the overall number of families and students choosing Marshall Public Schools is still lower than some comparable communities due to the high percentage of students enrolled in non-public settings in the Marshall community.

Finally, your Marshall Public Schools are a net gainer among the various public school options. The district has continued to ensure we are a net gainer by providing quality services in the academic, extra-curricular, special needs and co-curricular educational experiences we offer the children and families of the area.

Each of these factors, working in concert with each other, provides a level of confidence that Marshall Public Schools is projected to grow by 400 to 500 students in the next 10 years.

How will the Marshall Public Schools adapt and adjust? Clearly this is a key question that the Board of Education, administration, the staff, and the Marshall community as a whole will need to proactively plan for and adapt to over the next decade. In the upcoming months, the Marshall Board of Education will discuss the demographics study to better understand how this data will impact all areas of the school district.

What changes will need to occur with school facilities? Are the current facilities adequate to handle the growth or will we need to consider new facility additions or construction? What will need to change in the school staffing to ensure we meet the needs of a growing student population? How do we continue to grow and adapt programs to meet community needs? Further, the Marshall community will need to determine how we can continue to strategically address the anticipated growth pattern.

The community dialog needs to consider such things as single-family home needs, ongoing efforts to recruit and retain a qualified and educated workforce, and how community services and amenities will support a growing community.

Clearly this is an exciting time for Marshall Public Schools. I learned years ago as a child on the farm that there are two options you can be ripe and rotting or green and growing. Clearly, our research and data indicate that Marshall Public Schools has a bright future that is green, vibrant and growing!