Following enrollment decreases during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, a demography report presented to the Richardson ISD board of trustees Jan. 10 shows the district is expected to increase its total number of students in each of the next two school years. After that, the report predicts decreases of enrollment in each school year through 2031-32.

"We look at this data on a year-to-year basis," Assistant Superintendent Sandra Hayes said, noting the district has been working with this demographer for many years. "They do projections out to 10 years for us, but we really look at just the first couple of years for making data decisions."

As part of his presentation, consultant Rocky Gardner from Zonda Demographics said that the large price increases in single-family and multifamily housing are among the largest factors in future decreases of expected students. Gardner showed that through 2021, the average price of new homes in RISD increased by more than $216,000 since 2010, while the average price of existing homes rose by more than $182,000 in that time.

"You continue to be impacted by the pandemic and the rising home prices," Gardner said.

For the current school year, RISD's enrollment declined by 114 students. However, Gardner is forecasting a districtwide increase of 311 students for 2022-23, with 57% of those expected in kindergarten.

"We're forecasting a bounce back in kindergarten next year," he said.

By the 2026-27 school year, Gardner's forecast showed the district was likely to have 37,480 students, which is 500 students less than the projected enrollment for this coming fall.

In addition to the growth in Richardson's single-family housing market, Gardner said changes with multifamily housing in the city also affect the district's enrollment.

"Almost half your students come from apartment complexes," he told the board. "So you can see big swings because of that. [If] a very large apartment complex decides to close to remodel, those students are all ... displaced."

Hayes explained that many of Richardson's apartment complexes were built 50-60 years ago and are very large in size. Those complexes have units with several bedrooms that allow multiple family members to live in one apartment, she said.

"When a new property management company comes in and takes over [an aging complex], they go up on the rent [and price many families out of the apartment]," Hayes said. "We've seen that down the Spring Valley [Road] corridor, we saw it on the Skillman [Street] corridor, and we're now beginning to see it in some of the additional areas around our district, particularly in the southwest area of town."

She said as many of 400 RISD students live in some of the district's larger apartment complexes.

"When you go back to look at what campuses this year lost enrollment, it aligns directly with the apartment complexes [that have seen these kinds of changes]," Interim Superintendent Tabitha Branum said.