It appears there will be no shortage of Lakers in the future, as enrollment in the Prior Lake-Savage school district has been growing by about a hundred students a year, and is predicted to remain on the rise.
Prior Lake-Savage recently received results of a demographic study with enrollment predictions. One goal of such a study is to help officials plan for facilities, staff and programs in the coming years.
The district is projected to add 750 residents annually through 2018, resulting in more students during the next few years, thanks to new housing and a relatively young population — the average age is 36.
But exactly how many more students there will be depends on which prediction is used. The net gain over the next five years is projected to be between 78 students in the low-growth model and 892 students in the high-growth model. The growth between this year and next will be the largest one-year leap through 2019-20, the predictions say.
“Any way you look at it, enrollment is going to increase,” said Ann Thomas, president of SchoolFinances.com, the group that completed the study.
The district captures 88 percent of resident students, about average among districts in the area, the study said.
Prior Lake-Savage is a popular district, and that’s contributing to its growth, Thomas said. The district has a strong reputation, more planned development in the works and solid leadership.
“They’re just doing a lot of things very well,” she said.
South metro trends
On the other hand, enrollment trends across the south metro are a “mixed bag,” Thomas said.
Most suburban districts in Scott and Dakota counties, including Shakopee, Farmington, South St. Paul and West St. Paul-Mendota-Heights, have been experiencing an uptick in students since 2008-09, to varying degrees.
Growth in Shakopee is especially strong, with a recent demographic study predicting 9,450 students in 2022-23, nearly double the 5,120 students enrolled in 2004-05.
Inver Grove Heights has remained steady, with slight ups and downs and a net gain of about 100 students total.
Only Burnsville-Eagan-Savage, a district that is fully developed with no more room for homes, is consistently losing students.
Enrollment in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan dipped in the past seven years, hitting a low point in 2012-13. But the state’s fourth-largest district is projected to experience moderate increases in the coming years, according to a district-commissioned study.
Lakeville has experienced slight declines over the past seven years, but numbers appear to be swinging back up as more new homes are built.
In some fully-developed communities, baby boomers are remaining in their homes longer, despite the fact that their children have moved out. That results in less housing turnover and fewer young families with kids, Thomas said.
Statewide K-12 enrollment numbers were up by more than 5,000 students in 2013-14, the latest year that data are available from the Minnesota Department of Education, to 836,207 total.
The gains last year are, in part, the result of a record number of births in 2007 and those children entering the school system.
In contrast, 2013 was a low point nationally for births, Thomas said.