"We expected a pretty good bounce back [this year, but] we did not bounce back as much as we thought," consultant Rocky Gardner from Zonda Demographics said. "[PISD] declined by about 800 students [this year]. We really expected it to come back a little stronger than that, [and] we're not sure exactly where some of these students are now."
As part of his presentation, Gardner said the lack of available homes at affordable price points is among the factors in future decreases of expected students. Gardner showed there are roughly 540 lots available in PISD with an additional 3,200 lots in the planning stages. His presentation also noted the nearly 750 multifamily units under construction are expected to benefit the district in the next couple of years.
"We are projecting [enrollment] to continue to bounce back gradually," Gardner said. "Keep in mind the number of kindergarten students themselves are not growing very much because there's not as many births [happening throughout the state]."
Gardner said PISD has shown a strong retention of students.
"Once [students] are in the district, they stay," he said. "It's going to be about [bringing] kindergarten students [into PISD]."
Districts such as Richardson ISD saw similar projections to PISD's, Gardner said.
Following Gardner's presentation, trustee Lauren Tyra said data such as decreasing birth rates, smaller family sizes and housing prices all contribute to changes in the district's enrollment figures.
"I know that there are definitely members of the community pushing this idea that people are fleeing Plano schools or not putting their kids in Plano schools," Tyra said. "And I would just like the community to take a look at the data and actually understand that there are actual real data-driven headwinds that are causing some of this fluctuation in our student population."