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South Washington County Schools plans for future population growth

Representatives from the cities of Woodbury and Cottage Grove shared the planned and projected growth for their areas over the next several years, at the Wednesday, Oct. 17 School Board Meeting. South Washington County Schools also shared an update at the meeting on its long-range facility plan as Mike Vogel, Interim Director of Facilities and Construction Management prepares to retire.

Citing the Metropolitan Council forecast, the City of Woodbury says it expects an additional 15,300 people will move to the city between 2020 and 2040. The Metropolitan Council also predicts an additional 9,000 people will move to Cottage Grove between 2020 and 2040.

Woodbury Housing and Economic Development Coordinator, Karl Batalden, said the city’s draft comprehensive plan suggests a growth rate of about 400 housing units annually, with most of the development planned in the District 833 boundaries south of Bailey Road near Radio and Woodbury drives. However, 2018 is already outpacing projections with the completion of 594 housing units between January 1 and October 10.

Cottage Grove’s Economic Development Director, Christine Costello, said Cottage Grove is experiencing similar growth with 344 new residential units under construction in 2018. She shared that future residential developments are also anticipated north of 65th Street between Highway 61 and Keats Avenue.

District 833 Interim Director of Facilities and Construction Management, Mike Vogel, shared the need for future space at schools based on projected enrollment with the Board. Based on 2017 projections, the elementary school population is expected to grow by 190 students, the middle school population is expected to grow by 246 students and the high school population is expected to grow by 435 students for the 2023-24 school year.

Vogel said that the need for space is most urgent at the high school level, as all three high schools currently have student populations above functional capacity.

The 2014 Long-Range Facilities Plan called for the expansion of East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools; recommending the addition of space for 500 more students at East Ridge, space for 300 more students at Woodbury and space for 200 more students at Park. A failed 2015 Bond Referendum would have provided funding for expanded cafeteria seating at each high school, enhanced main entry/commons spaces, new STEM and high-needs instructional spaces, air conditioning units to be added to the activity centers and gyms at Park and Woodbury high schools, as well as, upgrades to performance spaces at Park and Woodbury high schools. Vogel said without funding from the 2015 Bond Referendum, these needs remain to be addressed.

District 833 also has elementary schools with needs for additional space that did not receive funding from the 2015 Bond Referendum. The 2014 Long-Range Facilities Plan identified several elementary schools that needed a second set of multi-stall restrooms, expanded or added commons areas, additional special needs classrooms and band/orchestra classrooms.

In addition, while there is sufficient elementary capacity for future needs at District 833 elementary schools, the capacity it not necessarily in expected growth areas. Vogel recommended revisiting the Long-Range Facilities Plan to address classroom needs at the elementary level.

The 2014 Long-Range Facility plan also identified needs around the District which have not been addressed, including for Community Education, which lacks space for early childhood programming and daytime adult basic education classes, as well as for the transportation and facilities departments, which need additional space for storing busses and grounds equipment.

Vogel also said an expansion may be necessary for Oltman Middle School within the next five years to address future middle school enrollment. Nearly 600 new housing units are being constructed in the Oltman Middle School attendance area with enrollment projected to reach 1,050 students by the 2021-22 school year. 

For more details, watch the October 17 Board meeting here.