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District 196 expects enrollment decline to stay slow but steady

Enrollment over the next few years in District 196 schools will look a lot like it has over the last few: a slow decline, but mostly steady.

School board members saw a report Monday on projected enrollment through the 2017-18 school year. Numbers for the 2013-14 school year predict a decline of 356 students at all levels, with the biggest drop in the district's elementary schools, where student information supervisor Kim Reis projected 213 fewer students.

The district's total projected enrollment for next year, including special education students, is 27,111, a decline of 57 from the current year.

Enrollment in the district has been dropping steadily since the district hit its peak in the 2003-04 school year. When the economy slowed and construction of new housing in the area ground to a halt, what had been rapid growth came to an abrupt end.

Some of that construction is starting up again, and Reis said enrollment declines are slowing. But there are no signs they will stop at least in the five years covered in the district's projections.

"The building has started again, but it hasn't really gotten moving," Reis said. "The builders are calling. The developers are calling. We haven't had those phone calls in a really long time. It's good to get those calls again."

When the growth comes, Rosemount is likely to be in the center of it. Reis is already seeing growth in the new Prestwick Place development near Dakota County Technical College and there is more growth near Pilot Knob Road.

"There's things happening, but they typically are south and east because that's where the open land is," Reis said.