Hopewell Township in partnership with the Hopewell Valley Regional School District will fund a demographic study as more and more residential development projects proceed in the township.
Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, Township Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski, and Township Committeeman David Chait voted “yes” on the measure to adopt an ordinance re-appropriating $10,000 from a prior use for traffic studies by the committee for affordable housing.
Township Committeewoman Uma Purandare was not present at the meeting on July 11.
“Mr. Kuchinski and I have met with the school district several times about keeping in touch and making sure that we are on top of the changing demographics of the township as we do have building happening in the township,” Peters-Manning said. “So. this is part of our commitment to work with them and make sure we are prepared.”
Michael Zuba, director of Public Education Planning from architecture firm SLAM, will be conducting the demographic study with Patrick Gallagher, a planning manager at the firm, which has its headquarters in Connecticut.
Before SLAM, Zuba provided the demographics and led the master planning efforts for Princeton Public Schools.
“The way we look at our enrollment projections is we really break it down by two major components [discovery and delivery],” Zuba said. “Discovery phase is where I get into all of our background information and really begin mining all of the data.”
Additional information from the 2020 census is “a lot of good data that can not only inform our enrollment projections, but also good information for the township to have in house,” he said.
The discovery phase will include data collection that features enrollment data from the district and planning data from Mercer County; demographics and housing [births, total population, household size, housing development and pipeline, community fair share housing], and enrollment trends [Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD) districtwide trends, school specific trends and enrollment analysis], according to the presentation.
Additionally, the delivery phase is set to deliver enrollment projections [develop districtwide – low, medium, and high, school specific by school and grade], a comprehensive projection report deck and community presentation.
“Birth analysis and trends, as well as looking at home sales over time. Understanding rental rates and occupied housing units based on different census geographies,” Zuba said, noting they are “really taking a deep dive within your community and understanding how different areas have different profiles themselves.”
Other examples of what the firm has done in the previous studies included providing an understanding of what the COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) agreements were in the township, and what units are coming online.
And “where the development projects are [whether they are approved, under construction, still in the planning phase] to better identify which neighborhood school is going to be impacted or not impacted by potential housing coming in.
Colorized maps with dots representing students are examples. Information collected, analyzed and put together would be districtwide and for each of the six schools in the district, Zuba said.
For enrollment projections, the firm will identify a model for 10 years that they determine will be the best fit for the community and will develop school specific enrollment projections by grade.
“It has been a number of years since the district had redone its demographic study and so we thought it would be best served if we partnered with them and that we did a joint demographic analysis,” Kuchinski said. “We have a shared service with the district to engage Mr. Zuba and embark on this process.”