The massive construction projects that Franklin schools completed eight years ago have provided enough space for students for at least the coming decade.

The school district has learned how many additional students to expect in the coming years, and their study shows about 160 more students enrolling by the start of the 2026 school year, according to the most likely scenarios.

Indiana University professor and demographic researcher Susan Brudvig completed the enrollment forecast study for the school district. The results show slow and steady growth that will be easily absorbed into the existing buildings, superintendent David Clendening said.

In 2007 and 2008, the school district opened a new high school and remodeled and expanded the existing high school into a middle school. Officials who planned and approved those building projects did a great job anticipating future growth in the school district, Clendening said.

The school district has ample room to add students from Grades 5 through 12, and also has space for any enrollment growth at the elementary schools.

Enrollment growth in schools across Johnson County is largely based on two factors: new home construction and birth rates. Most of the enrollment growth is happening at Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant schools. For example, Clark-Pleasant anticipates adding about 150 new students per year, and Center Grove could add more than 100 new students per year as well. Both school districts will be considering construction projects in the coming years.

By comparison, enrollment in Greenwood schools stays steady for the most part because most of the property in school district boundaries has already been developed, meaning children aren’t moving into newly built homes and enrolling in Greenwood schools.

The growth expected for Franklin would mirror what the school district has experienced during the past decade, which was a growth of about 160 students, even as the community faced a housing construction boom, then bust, the devastation from the 2008 flood and the attraction of a new high school. The opening of a new Kroger Marketplace and the construction of a new Meijer point to additional development in the community for the years ahead.

The rising birth rate is also having less of an impact on Franklin schools than in other communities, Brudvig found. She studied the birth rate and what percent of infants born to Johnson County residents were enrolling in Franklin schools by Grade 1, and found that the school district’s share has dropped to fewer than one in five.

The forecast offered the most likely growth pattern, but also examined the best and worse-case scenarios for the school district. If the number of young children born in the county and enrolling in Franklin schools holds steady, and development picks up, enrollment could grow by 18 percent, or nearly 1,000 students.

If little development occurred, enrollment could drop by more than 500 students during the coming decade.

“I don’t see that happening. Look at the homestarts,” Clendening said. “Even when things were really difficult in 2009 and 2010, we didn’t see that drop off in the number of kids.”

By the numbers

Franklin schools enrollment

Total enrollment, past and projections

2006-2007;4,910

2011-2012;5,156

2016-2017;5,079

2021-2022;5,070

2026-2027;5,240

The projects are the base forecast of enrollment growth based on new home construction and the birth rate. The study also included a high and low forecast, which ranged from enrollment shrinking during the next decade to 4,505 or spiking to 6,025 students.

Source: Enrollment forecast

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.