This column was originally published 2.23.17 in the ThisWeek Worthington News. I’m choosing to share it on our blog as well because I believe it is important for all Worthington residents to understand both our actual enrollment growth to date and our projected enrollment growth over the next five years. This growth will impact many of our decisions moving forward.
Worthington Schools place a great emphasis on creating a welcoming environment and embracing challenges and differences so all students have an opportunity to succeed. Year after year, we are recognized for our high-quality, dedicated staff and challenging academic programs. As a result, our student enrollment is growing. Worthington is one of the top ten growing school district in the state of Ohio. That’s not a fact you would expect from a suburban school district that is landlocked.
Since our last operating levy in 2012, some residents may be surprised to learn that our student population has increased by 877 students. In addition, according to facilities experts DeJong-Richter, moderate projections are showing that we could possibly add another 800 students over the next five years.
This growth in our enrollment will be a challenge to the District. Nearly 20 years ago, Worthington had about the same enrollment as today. However, back then, we did not offer all-day kindergarten, nor did we have as many students with special education needs as we now have. These services take considerably more classroom space than what was allocated for such programs two decades ago.
In addition, programs now housed in the Perry building (Rockbridge Academy, Phoenix Middle School and Worthington Academy) have become important, sought after educational options for students across our community.
We are working to manage this growth. The fact is, like a growing family, eventually we will have to change how we do some things. Before any decision is made about the future of our schools, we will put together a Master Facility Plan with input from our residents. The District is currently working with students, parents, community members and facilities experts to explore all options to determine the direction of facilities and enrollment planning for Worthington Schools.
As our district grows, so does our commitment to serving our students and families. To share ideas and hear feedback, we will hold our third Master Facility Planning community meeting at two locations on two different dates: March 14 at Thomas Worthington and March 15 at Worthington Kilbourne, both starting at 6:30 p.m. At this meeting, we will be presenting draft options and asking you for feedback on those proposed options.
I hope you will consider joining us and being a part of the conversation. We want to hear from you.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent