Portland Public Schools staff, as part of the high school modernization program, has proposed increasing the size of two of the three high schools to be modernized. The additional costs would be $23 million, not just the $10 million proposed to be taken from reserves. And PPS staff, in focusing just on Grant and Franklin enrollment andf capacities, do not give an overall view of enrollment growth in PPS or of the existing high school system capacity to meet that growth. With its ten high schools, PPS has enough capacity for forecasted enrollment growth over the next 25 years.
(1) Cost is $23 million, not just the $10 million taken from reserves.
The PPS staff presentation to the Board had a powerpoint slide stating “Escalation calculated at $21.1M for the three high schools.” Using data given in the Board materials, I calculated $23. 7 million for the two high schools at the $220 per sq. ft. rate, as follows:
The PPS staff proposal, in a separate action, proposes to reduce the cost per square foot from $220 to $200, or by $20 per square foot. Each 1,500 enrollment high school is estimated to have 250,094 square feet, three times that is 750,282 square feet, times $20 per square feet is $15,005,640.
Each of the two proposed expansions has 53,850 square feet. Two have 107,700 square feet. Times $20 per square foot is $2,154,000. Added to $15,005,640 (above) is $17,159,640, as the potential cost reductions in dropping the cost per square foot from $220 to $200 on the expanded high schools projects.
(2) Does PPS need the additional enrollment capacity?
Last year, 2012-13, 22.2 % of PPS total enrollment was in high schools.
The PPS staff materials (here) do not give a good presentation of high school enrollment growth over the next 25 years. They do present as chart of K-12 enrollment forecast through 2025-26. And, with that chart, they say:
All three scenarios of the PSU enrollment forecast point to additional students enrolling in PPS over this time span. The medium growth scenario shows K-12 enrollment increasing to 50,399 students in the 2021-22 school year, adding more than 4,000 students above current enrollment. The high growth scenario predicts that 2021-22 K-12enrollment would reach 52,572 students, adding more than 6,000 students to the district over the next eight years.
In the following chart, I have tried to duplicate the "medium" and "high" annual growth rates of the PSU forecasts, have extended them out to 2035-36, and have allocated 22.2% of that growth to high schools.
Note that the 2035-36 high school enrollment forecast are 13,816 and 12,325. Both are less that PPS's current high school enrollment capacity of 15,000. (ten schools time 1,500 each).
PPS staff has not made the case for enlarging Grant and Frannklin. If they can, they need to come back with system wide data, both enrollment forecasts and specific school capacities all across the district.
Note: For every rationale for higher high school enrollment growth, I can think of opposite rationales that would lead to lower enrollment growth.