Hundreds of new students are projected to enroll at the Hopewell Valley Regional School District in the coming years following the completion of three residential housing developments in Hopewell Township.
Representatives of SLAM Collaborative, a design firm in Philadelphia, made a presentation on the projected enrollment numbers to school board members, district administration and the public at a board meeting on Jan. 11.
The firm was hired by the district to conduct a demographer report and project enrollment of the district with the new developments – Hopewell Parc, Woodmont at Hopewell and The Collection at Hopewell – that will be coming online in phases over the next 10 years.
The Hopewell Valley School District population has increased from 20,836 in 2000 to 22,211 in 2020. The firm projects 447 additional K-12 students in the coming years.
The firm did note that Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD) grew at a slower pace than the state and Mercer County between 2010 and 2020, according to the presentation.
Woodmont at Hopewell and The Collection occupancies are expected to start in 2024 and be completed by 2029. Sixty percent of Hopewell Parc units are expected to be occupied by the 2032-33 school year, according to the presentation.
The three development projects once completed is expected to produce 1,756 units.
The projected breakdown of additional student is 243 K-5 students, 83 grade 6-8 students, and 121 high school students.
SLAM representatives said that “83% of the units are in the Bear Tavern Elementary District.”
Business Administrator Robert Colavita said that it is “too early” to determine whether the increase in students will affect Hopewell Valley residents’ school taxes.
“Our budgets are going to be moving and shifting over the next 10 years. It is hard to say right now until we see the actual growth, how it is going to affect our taxes,” he said.
The presentation by SLAM pointed out that enrollment for pre-K to 12th grade has declined by 7.1% in the last 10 years.
A chart showed that in the 2021-22 school year there were 1,058 high school students, 807 middle school students, and 1,446 K-5 students. In the 2022-23 school year, there are 1,062 high school students, 779 middle school students and 1,486 K-5 students in the district.
The school district experienced a low number of pre-K students in 2020-21 of 65 students, which would then grow to 96 students enrolled for the 2022-23 school year.
“We always recommend to our clients that they look at the high medium and low scenarios, which really present the range of possible outcomes, knowing that over a 10-year horizon there are things we are not going to be able to foresee,” said Pat Gallagher, planning manager at SLAM.
He added that medium model is the one SLAM is recommending is most likely to happen.
SLAM Collaborative projects that in the high model there will be consistent growth over the next 10 years. The district in this model would grow by 700 students through the 2032-33 school year for a total of 4,124 students.
For the medium model, which is SLAM’s recommended model, the district would see a more moderate growth in the student population with student enrollment increasing by 431 students through 2032-33.
The medium model projects total enrollment to be 3,854 students.
The low model has the district enrollment stable through 2032-33 over the next 10 years that ranges between 3,350 and 3,450 students.
“Elementary enrollment is projected to see the greatest amount of growth at just over 15 percent. Stabilizing at just over 1,700 students [1,724] by 2030 and through 2033,” Gallagher said.
He noted that middle school enrollment is projected to stay stable in the near term over the next five years before growing to 892 students in the last five years of the 10-year projections.
“High school enrollment is projected to decrease in the near term [five years] before rebounding over the final five years,” Gallagher said.
By 2032-33, the high school population is projected to reach 1,142 compared to 1,030 in the 2027-28 school year; 892 students projected for middle school during 2032-33 [796 in 2027-28]; and 1,724 students for K-5 [1,690 in 2027-28].
Gallagher said that based on historic enrollment in the district a second middle school or high school would not be needed for increased enrollment that is projected.
For more information, video and detail on the preliminary demographer presentation, visit www.hvrsd.org.