Wayzata School District creates task force in response to student growth

A row of Meadow Ridge Elementary kindergarteners get ready to head inside for class on the school’s opening day this past fall. (Sun Sailor file photo by Jason Jenkins)

Recommendation to school board expected in February

Wayzata Public Schools, in response to continuing significant student growth, has created a task force to review student enrollment, housing trends and demographic data, and seeks a recommendation to the school board about how to best accommodate the growth at the elementary level.

According to a recent housing and enrollment study completed by consulting geographer Dick Carlstrom, the district expects approximately another 1,000 K-12 students by 2019 if current housing trends continue. At the beginning of this school year, there were approximately 11,200 students enrolled in the district (4,998 elementary students, 2,768 middle school students and 3,429 students at Wayzata High).

The study indicates new housing developments are going up two to three times more rapidly than developers had projected in the north, and there is stable enrollment growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turn over to young families.

The district’s eighth elementary school, Meadow Ridge, opened this past fall, north of Wayzata High in one of the fastest growing areas in the district. Proof of the area’s rapid housing growth can be found in the district’s decision to move forward with planned expansion work sooner than expected at Meadow Ridge. The expansion to the two-story, 83,000 square-foot school will add another 10 classrooms and make room for an additional 150-175 students when it opens in the fall of 2018. At the beginning of this school year, there were 761 students enrolled at the school. The school’s capacity is currently at 700 students.

Even with the opening of the new school, attendance area adjustments for elementary schools and planned addition to Meadow Ridge, the district said added capacity at the elementary level is needed to accommodate resident student growth.

“Demand for our schools has never been greater, and we are grateful that families are choosing the Wayzata Schools to provide an excellent learning experience for their child,” said Superintendent Chace Anderson. “This growth is putting pressure on our schools, and we need to proactively and strategically address meeting student needs.”

While there are capacity issues at the elementary level, the district said projections show there is adequate space at the middle schools and high school through at least 2030 due to the recent expansion of Wayzata High and moving early childhood programs from Central Middle School to the new Early Learning School.

According to district officials, the task force was selected from an open application process and is composed of parents and community members, with representation from all district schools and a balance of long-time families and families new to the community.

The task force will review data and information in relation to the continued housing growth and the school capacity and provide a recommendation as to whether additional facilities may or may not be needed, when facilities may be needed and to what extent, the district said.

“That isn’t just a district decision. That’s a community decision because it would cause us to go to referendum,” said Kristin Tollison, the school district’s director of administrative services.

City staff members from communities in the school district have also been invited to the meetings to share housing information and projections on population growth.

The task force is scheduled to meet 5-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 5, 12 and 19 in the media center at Central Middle School.

Tollison said the goal is to have the task force’s draft recommendation ready for review at the school board’s Jan. 23 work session, with a recommendation as part of the Feb. 13 regular meeting agenda.

A similar citizens committee was formed in 2013, Tollison said, as the district was considering additional facilities to accommodate student growth.

In early 2014, voters in the school district approved $109.6 million in bond funding to add onto Wayzata High, build a new elementary school and make district-wide upgrades to safety, security and technology infrastructure.

For more information, and to view the entire housing and enrollment study, visit wayzata.k12.mn.us/growth.

Contact Jason Jenkins at jason.jenkins@ecm-inc.com.

Load comments