Council Rock School District has a long and proud history of providing exceptional educational and extracurricular experiences for students. We do this in concert with our talented staff, engaged parents, passionate Board of School Directors, and supportive community members. While some school districts in Bucks County are experiencing diminishing enrollment numbers, we are forecasted to realize increases in our population. Spanning 70 square miles, Council Rock currently maintains sixteen school buildings. We are truly a blend of old and new with an historical Administration Building that dates back to 1869 and two state-of-the-art middle schools scheduled to open their doors in September 2018. This blend of history and progressiveness clearly defines the Council Rock community and acts as one of the primary drivers for families wanting to live here and educate their children in our schools.
In a June 2014 Capital Planning Report, it was noted that the district was facing challenges, two of which were an aging infrastructure and declining enrollment. At that time, redistricting was proposed to address demographic projections that showed a downward population trend. More than three years later, we see the district still addressing aging infrastructure and redistricting, but not exactly in the same way envisioned in 2014. Thoughtful, data driven Master Capital Planning did speak to our infrastructure with focused improvement and construction projects at Holland Middle School, Newtown Middle School, and Wrightstown Elementary School. We also evolved our Master Capital Plan to account for changing demographic projections that made us rethink our needs. Most notable was the recent decision to keep Rolling Hills Elementary School open with renovations tentatively scheduled in 2019-2020. Wrightstown Elementary School will undergo a renovation in 2018-2019 and expand its student capacity by returning grades 5 and 6 to its current K-4 structure.
As we look at our district in 2017, we see immense potential. We also see inequitable school enrollment numbers and pockets of population density that make us revisit the redistricting recommendation suggested in 2014, only now through a new lens. Today, we view ourselves as a community that continues to grow, a realization that differs from the expected population decline projected three years ago. We do, however, still hold true to the idea that we must achieve balance for various reasons, not the least of which is our commitment to live up to our mission of providing success for every student, every day. The current status of our district sees the majority of our students feeding into our southern region with smaller student populations feeding into our northern region. As a result, we experience overcrowding in our Northampton area elementary buildings. This overcrowding causes a strain on both instruction and infrastructure. Crowded classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and playgrounds are neither ideal for students, nor the educators and physical structure that support them on a daily basis. Such crowding is unnecessary when we know that we have schools that are under capacity. Districtwide imbalance also has negative economic implications, as it is simply not efficient to have vast differentials in enrollment. A study conducted by Hanover Research and cited in the 2014 Council Rock Planning Committee Report, clearly, “substantiated that the most cost effective elementary schools are those that have populations between 450 and 700 students.”
If we understand that redistricting presents a dual opportunity for us to both balance our district and broaden our academic and economic potential, we clearly understand the short and long-term value of redrawing boundary lines at this time with the following goals in mind:
- Sustained student enrollment figures, K-6
- More balanced enrollment at our two middle schools
- More balanced enrollment at our two high schools
A Redistricting Committee, comprised of volunteer participants from each CRSD school and Council Rock Central Office representatives (Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Robert Fraser; Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Sue Elliott; Director of K-12 Education, Mr. Barry Desko; Director of Business Administration, Mr. Robert Reinhart; and Supervisor of Pupil Transportation, Mr. Andrew Ro) have invested in the challenging work of examining current school boundary lines in order to achieve more balanced enrollment across our district.
The Redistricting Committee, which has met periodically since October and November 2017, has undergone the task of reviewing enrollment information from Sundance Associates, a professional company contracted by the district to provide demographic data. This information has included residential permit (new housing development) data, residential sales (home re-sale) data, and population density maps of the district. All information has been utilized to better understand the enrollment imbalance that drives our current redistricting needs with the goal of balancing our district and broadening our potential for Council Rock students of today and tomorrow.