Valparaiso school board hears demographic projections
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent October 17, 2013 11:10PM
Updated: November 19, 2013 6:13AM
VALPARAISO — The city’s population will continue to grow, but the school system’s demographics will remain roughly the same until the 2023-24 school year.
That was the projection offered to the Valparaiso Community Schools Board earlier this week.
And that assumes interest rates won’t go above 5.5 percent, unemployment won’t increase to 9.5 percent or more, and that Valparaiso Community Schools will retain its voucher policy.
That stable amount of school-age children also includes the area south of U.S. 30, where people have talked about building a new elementary school.
The Valparaiso Community Schools Board heard about their demographics Tuesday night as Jerome McKibben of McKibben Demographic Research presented an eight-week study of the district’s potential growth.
Throughout the city, about 30 percent of households have school-age children, and the total number of children is declining.
However, if the number of people coming into the city with children remains constant, that won’t be a problem.
“There’s a hole in the bucket, but as long as you put more water into the bucket than goes out, you’re all right,” McKibben said.
More families with children come into the district not by buying newly-built homes but instead into the existing homes that older people are moving out of, he said. Most of the new homes being built in the city are east of Indiana 49, in Washington Township’s school district.
Before the district decides to build an elementary school south of U.S. 30, it will have to answer dozens of questions, McKibben said.
Board member Jim Jorgensen summed up the study as Valparaiso not needing to build new schools or close any in the future.
Another economic downturn could mean an influx of people living with relatives, such as when people defaulted on their mortgages in 2008-09, at the start of the recession. However, that is always followed by an exodus soon after.
McKibben said this study differs from one he completed in 2000 that assumed a third Chicago airport would be developed and one in 2007 that assumed the South Shore would build a rail spur into the city.
“This time, there’s no assumption of growth,” he said.