Demographic, enrollment projections to be focus of next COMPASS session

Mehlville school-aged population projected to drop 3 percent by 2012


As the Mehlville School District’s total population has climbed by more than 1,200 people since 2000, that growth is projected to reach a standstill and result in a 3-percent decline in school-aged children between now and 2012.

The Mehlville School District is reflective of an aging population, according to regional demographics statistician Charles Kofron.

While the school district’s total population is projected to be just 1 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2000, Kofron estimates that the district will see a 16-percent drop in student-aged population from 2000 to 2012. Kofron will present his findings during the district’s next community-engagement session, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at Bernard Middle School, 1054 Forder Road.

His projections show that Mehlville’s total population is expected to drop by less than 1 percent from its 2007 estimate of 104,073 people to its 2012 projection of 103,844 people.

While total population is expected to drop by just more than 200 people in the next five years, the number of children ranging in age from 5 to 17 is expected to drop by just less than 500.

Kofron estimates school-aged population will drop from its current estimate of 16,155 to 15,663 in 2012, a 3-percent decline. At the same time, the district’s total population is estimated to drop by less than 1 percent from 104,073 in 2007 to 103,844 in 2012.

Mehlville’s population changes are expected to vary at different rates throughout certain sections of the district.

While most of the Oakville area is expected to grow at a rate of 1 percent to 4 percent in population between now and 2012, almost all of Lemay and the northern part of Oakville is expected to see a population decline in the next five years at a rate of -0.01 percent to -1.73 percent.

While Concord’s western part is expected to remain roughly the same in population over the next five years, its population is expected to drop slightly in most of its eastern part, but with greater spikes in growth from 1 percent to 4 percent along Interstate 55.

As for the population of children ranging in age from 5 to 17, the vast majority of Concord is expected to drop in school-age children over the next five years from -0.01 percent to -17.37 percent.

Lemay is expected to see the same rate of decline in its school-age children in most areas except for a small section in the center of the community that is projected to grow in school-age children between 5 percent and 11 percent over the next five years.

As for Oakville, the vast majority is expected to see a drop in school-age children over the next five years between -0.01 percent and -17.37 percent. At the same time, Oakville’s northeastern corner near Beasley Elementary School is expected to see a growth of 5 percent to 11 percent in school-age children over the next five years.

Other areas of Oakville, predominantly its extreme south near Rogers Elementary School, are projected to see a smaller population growth of school-age children of up to 5 percent from now to 2012.

While the district’s total population is ex-pected to drop in the next five years, its number of housing units is expected to increase by 1 percent from 43,667 in 2007 to 44,099 in 2012.

Kofron believes this is due to an increasing number of villas and gated communities or planned subdivisions in the south area of the district in Oakville.

Average household income in the school district is also expected to increase by a rate of 17.3 percent in the next five years, from $67,963 in 2007 to $79,705 in 2012.

Average housing value is expected to increase in the next five years, from $206,045 in 2007 to $252,231 in 2012.

Key findings Kofron concluded from the range of estimates he has calculated are:

• The district’s diversity will continue to increase, but the population will remain predominantly white.

• As recently as 2000, less than two-thirds of the school-aged population attended public schools.

• While households are expected to in-crease by 3 percent across this decade, most of those new households will be non-family.

• The number of families in the district will decline by an estimated 1.6 percent.

• The size of both households and families will continue to decline.

• While housing will increase, it will do so at a gradually slower rate by the end of the decade.

While the district’s trend of a gradually aging population is expected to result in fewer students in the Mehlville School District, members of the Facilitating Team for COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools — believe it will literally open up possibilities for the district by opening up existing building space through smaller class sizes.

Facilitating Team co-chair Dan Fowler said that based upon these early projections, he believes it might be wise for the school district to embrace an effort to promote more effective learning through smaller class sizes.

“Let’s assume Mehlville School District, from this study, makes a decision to have smaller class size, which would be smart on their part,” Fowler said. “You still have the same amount of teachers, but fewer kids because you’ve got smaller class size. And you still have the same amount of buildings to operate. You still have the same amount of infrastructure to support.

“So sometimes, the only thing that it does is it allows you to actually provide a better education because of smaller class size and taking your buildings and better utilizing the space so we can do some things that we haven’t been able to do in the past. An example is right now Mehlville packs kids into classrooms. And we do really a good job considering we have to do that because of budgetary constraints.

“I mean, Mehlville is known in St. Louis County for squeezing blood out of a turnip. And so they’ve done that and they’ve done a really good job. But the fact that we’ve got a declining enrollment means it will open up opportunities for Mehlville to do some things that other school districts have been doing for many, many years with smaller class size.”

Because of these factors, Fowler believes it is imperative that parents attend next week’s community-engagement session to learn more about the district’s demographics.

“When you have a shifting population and an aging population and we can see that some areas are growing and some are going down, you’re going to most likely down the road see a need to redistrict the school district,” Fowler said. “In other words, redraw boundary lines for the school district … Demographics is going to drive everything. So while it may seem like a boring subject, it is in fact probably the most important of all the meetings we are having because it just affects everything.”