After nearly doubling the student enrollment during the past 15 years, Clark-Pleasant still is expected to grow by another 1,300 students within the next decade, according to a new demographic study.
By the time today’s kindergarten students are in high school, the district is expected to have 7,680 students attending, according to Susan Brudvig, Indiana University East associate professor of marketing, who studied the school district. She presented the next decade’s worth of student growth for Clark-Pleasant, estimating how many students will be coming to the school district by the 2025-26 school year.
With homebuilding picking up, the school district could grow even faster.
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Enrollment at Clark-Pleasant schools has grown every year for 15 years straight. Since the 2000-01 school year, Clark-Pleasant’s enrollment went from 3,351 to 6,372 students this year. In the most recent school enrollment count in September, more than 100 students joined Clark-Pleasant compared with the enrollment number at the same time last year.
By the 2025-26 school year, Brudvig said, school officials should expect 7,680 students attending Clark-Pleasant schools, a 17 percent increase over this year.
For about the next decade, school officials will have to decide what they need to expand or build to fit the extra students.
If school officials want to expand existing structures, the middle school building was constructed with the thought of adding another wing to the building, Superintendent Patrick Spray has said. Sawmill Woods Elementary School, which will be closed after this school year, could be repurposed as a preschool or an alternative academy.
Clark-Pleasant already is adjusting for growth. This fall, the school district decided to close Sawmill Woods, add a new elementary school at the building that is currently used for the intermediate school, have elementary schools include kindergarten through fifth grade and move sixth-graders to the middle school starting in the 2016-17 school year.
The reason: crowding. By last school year, Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School was at 99 percent capacity.
School officials also are considering giving electronic devices, such as a laptop or tablet, to every middle school and high school student, which would eliminate the need for computer labs and create additional classroom space.
According to the recent projections, that extra space will be needed.
There are about 600 6-year-olds living within Clark-Pleasant’s boundaries, compared with about 500 16-year-olds, Brudvig said. So as those kindergartners move up to the next grade, the school district will experience a bump in class sizes, she said.
More than 1,750 preschool-aged children will head to elementary school within the next three years, Brudvig said. Another 1,200 infants already live in the school district, too.
“You’ve got a lot of preschoolers living in the district,” Brudvig said. “You’ve got a lot of children who are not yet enrolled in school, and your enrollments would actually grow without any homebuilding because those children are actually in the district and are residents right now.”
She said Clark-Pleasant’s enrollment could increase even more rapidly if home construction continues to pick up. For every 100 single-family homes built in the area, the school district should expect about 50 new school-aged children in their classrooms, she said.
Nearly 500 homes are planned for construction in the school district. Existing subdivisions, like the Preserve at South Lake, are building more homes; while new developments, such as Heritage Trace near Worthsville Road and Emerson Avenue and Cherry Tree Walk near Honey Creek and Cutsinger roads, are in the works. Brudvig said developers are likely to follow the road improvements happening on the east side of the county, such as along Worthsville Road, as the area to build new homes.
“There’s a lot of lots that are obviously available in Clark-Pleasant, and we are seeing some new interest in some new developments,” Brudvig said.
As new families move into existing homes, they could add more children to the school district, she said.
In the first quarter of this year, home sales are up 19 percent compared with the same period last year, according to Brudvig’s study. Homeowners with children who have graduated from Whiteland Community High School could choose to sell their home, and a family with younger children could move in, she said.
Clark-Pleasant school district is expected to have another 1,300 students enrolled by the 2025-2026 school year. Here’s a look at the student enrollment districtwide through the years:
2020: 6,930 (forecast)
2025: 7,680 (forecast)
Source: Demographic study by Susan Brudvig, associate professor of marketing at Indiana University East