Construction Fever

Photo+by+Elisabeth+Oster.

Photo by Elisabeth Oster.

Elisabeth Oster, Editor-in-Chief

  The Wayzata School District expects around 1,0000 new students by the end of 2019 because of new housing developments, according to a November 2016 Housing and Enrollment Study conducted by consulting geographer Dick Carlstrom.
  “There has been robust growth within the Wayzata Schools boundaries for several years. Areas of Corcoran and other parts of Plymouth have been developed over the past few years,” said Director of Administrative Services Kristin Tollison.
  According to Tollison, the Northwest area of Plymouth is currently seeing the most growth.
  “The whole community is very appealing to families, many of the developments advertise that they are part of Wayzata schools, it’s definitely an added bonus,” said Tollison.
  According to the housing study, the district contains 15,569 single-family homes, and 1,803 condominium units. 31 percent of the single-family homes have students enrolled in the Wayzata school district.
  By the end of 2019, 1,060 new single family homes are predicted to be built, according to the study. “The district has been monitoring the housing developments for many years and will continue to update our enrollment projections based on anticipated growth in the communities we serve,” said Tollison. The study also reported that “districts with high percentages of homes built since the year 2000 have higher K-12 student yields.”
  “We are in regular contact with city planners from each of the eight communities in our district,” said Tollison.
  “As you can imagine, houses can be built much more quickly than a school, so we need to anticipate future growth as accurately as possible.”
  According to Tollison, the district meets regularly with the city planners of Plymouth, Corcoran, and Medina which are the three fastest growing areas. The areas that are planning to be developed in the next year are discussed and plans for the district are organized accordingly.
  “It’s not an exact science. If you think about it, it may vary from family to family, but over a course of 100 families you
start to see a pattern,” said Tollison.
  According to Tollison, developers go to the city and request approval to develop a certain area of land. Once approval is given and the housing style is decided upon, then the district is able to begin planning their projections. Although developments have generated a 0.13 increase of students per home, 39 percent of the single-family homes contain “aging in place” residents, according to the housing study.
  “Aging in place” residents refer those who have children who have already graduated but are not moving out of single-family homes. According to the housing study, the increase of these residents raises concern with districts as it limits the amount of younger families who are able to move in. “Of particular concern are those aging in- place households living in the more modestly priced single family homes,” Carlstrom
writes. “Householders in a home with a lower value may be very hesitant to sell and move because  proceeds from their home sale may not be adequate to allow them to a condominium or of their liking.” Despite the concern, there is increasingly evident growth from the arrival of new developments. So much so that a 9th elementary school is currently under construction, according to Tollison.
  According to the Wayzata Schools website, a growth task force of 25 members was created to recommend a solution for the continued growth. The recommendation was ultimately approved during the Referendum in November.
  “The Growth Task Force was very effective. A similar committee is coming together to look where the housing and the students are to make new attendance boundaries this Spring,” said Tollison. “We work very hard to anticipate where and when we may experience growth,” said Tollison. “Although growing poses some challenges such as new school boundaries and hiring high quality staff, it also brings excitement.”