October 2, 2023

School Facility Efficiency Review Committee


Meeting 2 Minutes: 10/2/23

Committee Convened: 5:36 PM.


Welcome and greetings from Shannon Bingham (SB) from Western Demographics, Inc. (WDI).


Five new members introduced themselves. Mr. Bingham acknowledged the Squaxin tribal ancestry of the district. He reviewed the committee charge and alluded to future meetings in which small group table exercises would augment the data presentations. SB continued to present from a PowerPoint addressing generational changes in family size. Slides showing cultural and social issues related to forecast declines in birthrates were presented. Economic drivers including housing were also presented. Millennial and Generation Z age group indicators were presented suggesting that these cohorts have indicated an intention to have smaller families than prior generations. Recently released data on school-aged children/kindergarten counts were also discussed the emphasis on the durability of these trends and an expectation that they will continue indefinitely.



Questions/Comments from committee members with answer from SB/WDI:


How are you accounting for the fact that a fifth of housing is occupied by Baby Boomers.

Many seniors are choosing to retire-in-place, in their existing homes, rather than move into some other sort of housing or assisted housing. The home health care industry is supporting this trend. Large-scale transitions in which senior neighborhoods transition to young family neighborhoods are rare. If transition happens, it tends to be slow and decades-long.

The age of housing is the bigger predictor of school-aged population. As neighborhoods age, they tend to produce fewer children. Many seniors are, however, transferring some of their home equity to their children, but they liquidate their dwellings in order to achieve this. The children of those seniors are generally buying more economical housing in denser, newer neighborhoods.


Can you speak to the analytics FLO provided?

I will be showing a comparison analysis of FLO’s predictive data with the actual data we are seeing.


Some of what you are sharing is counterintuitive to my observations. Do you have data that compares national-level data to Olympia?

Mr. Bingham named several other comparable capital cities and college towns elsewhere in the Country that have aging houses, affluent demographics and fewer children. He is seeing the same trends there.


What is an FTE?

Full-time equivalent. It is a percentage of which a person fills a job or role. So, for example, when children attend school halftime, they are a .5 FTE.



More from Presentation

SB presented maps of the district boundaries which displayed the concentration of students in each part of the district. He discussed the feeder system concept in which a few elementary schools “feed” to a middle school and multiple middle schools feed to a high school. He discussed mixed grade-level classrooms.


Tracks or rounds are the number of classrooms at each grade level. If there is one first grade, one second grade, and so on, that is a one-round or one-track school. If there were two classrooms at each grade, that would be a two-round or two-track school.

SB continued presentation and discussed school capacities. He displayed preliminary utilization percentages for each building.



More questions from the committee with answers from SB.


Can you explain the coloration on the charts for schools vs. the percentages?

I’m showing schools below 200 (pink), 300 (yellow), 400 (green). On the right side, shading is if it is in the 50’s (pink), 60’s (yellow), 80’s (green).


Can you explain what capacity figures mean?

The district provided three approaches. One takes into account space for special ed (lowest capacity), there is also a middle and high approach that are maximums if all space is used.


Do these capacity numbers take into account and include portables?

These figures include current portables.


A committee member asked a question about the capacity methodology given the viability of housing the stated number of students at a specific school.

Mr. Bingham addressed the concern and suggested that the capacity figures may be more tailored to programs at a later meeting.


Madison ES has a transitional kindergarten (pre-school program) how does that come into play?

I don’t know. I’ll research that for the next meeting.


Can you speak to ORLA?

ORLA was not forecast by FLO as it is driven by admission demand and not demographics. No observations of comparison included here.


What grades does that program include?



Please, further clarify the coloration on the charts and the meaning of those colors.

We should be looking at small schools that have low utilization rates. Consider the colors like traffic lights: Green is go/good, yellow is slow/consider, red is stop and think.


I am a little frustrated about maybe the coloring being premature [before further conversation].

I am trying to give a little bit of interpretation on very complicated information. So, for some it will seem too fast and others will want to have more information and slow down and analyze more. I will try to be respectful of that in future interpretation.


Ask that the color-coding be more color-blind friendly.

Yes, we can work on that [for next and future meetings].




The presentation continued with an explanation of the basis for capacity calculations provided by staff: Elementary school is 25:1 where each elementary room is counted, including portable classrooms; Middle schools and High schools are 28:1 as class size with Special Education being 10:1. There is also an 80% efficiency ratio applied to middle and high school capacities to facilitate teacher planning periods. It is National practice for many teachers to remain in their classroom for their planning periods, for office hours to assist students and lesson prep. Most capacity formulas take certain rooms out of the calculation, for example dedicated spaces like gymnasiums. Capacity (facility) and staffing models tend to differ. Mr. Bingham may generate figures more in line with staffing needs in a subsequent meeting. Most districts own their portables.


Is maintenance cost more on portable than on fixed structures?

Yes. Portables are more expensive to heat and maintain. They are more difficult to secure.

Presentation resumed:

Mr. Bingham addressed the differences in middle school size among the four OSD middle schools - three smaller middle schools and one large middle. Middle schools require math, science, language arts, social studies, and an elective program (art, music, physical ed, technology, world languages, and others). Large schools are able to offer an elective program with adequate staff and frequently these are full 1.0 FTE in the building. In small middle schools, the district must subsidize elective staff and there is a higher cost per student than at larger schools. 625 student is generally the threshold for elective program subsidy. The forecasts of enrollment show two middle schools already in the 400’s and forecasted to drop into the 300’s. Middle schools in the 300’s are difficult to staff. These smaller programs require teachers have to assume multiple roles, teach in multiple content areas and prepare for multiple daily lessons.

At high school level, FLO projects Olympia High School would lose students over the next 5 and 10 years. Capital would increase and then decrease during the same time period. Open enrollment may be useful in managing the forecasted changes. Olympia HS and Capital would be more comparably sized by the end of the period according to the demographic trending, but open enrollment may moderate this.

Q for FLO

What is happening with the feeder from adjacent district (K-8) with projection for high school? Do we have any idea on how that would help?


Who decides how to draw districts?

Generally, this is set by state legislature. The last time there was considerable changes was in the 1960’s in the Western U. S. as districts transitioned from more historically agricultural geographies to more suburban geographic boundaries. We now have laws that promote choice and families can choose which district to attend. Some districts regulate that more closely than others using school capacities.


Are districts allowed to merge?

It would likely require two elections and then ratification by state legislature to make change.

The presentation continued:
SB covered age and size of school buildings. Olympia school buildings were built 1923-2015. Floorplan examples were provided. SB noted that building condition is very good in this district. Even the lowest rated buildings from a facilities condition perspective are in good condition compared to many other districts. However, each building receives a rating and those were provided to the committee. Some buildings have a relatively lower rating than others. Historic expenditures for building improvements were covered.


Are there estimates of what percentage of these were actually new construction vs. long-term maintenance?

Mr. Bingham agreed to collect and relay 30-year expenditure data. In general, new schools are constructed using bond funds and maintenance projects use annual funding generally referred to as “capital reserve” in some states.


I don’t understand the Avanti and ORLA quintiles?

It looks like an error may have been made there, I [SB] will check. I may have just flipped them.


What is behind lower expenditures on middle schools?

A staff member commented that there had been expenditures just outside of the 10-year horizon.

Presentation continued with attendance area data (percent of students attending school that live in boundary for that school).


Does the difference have to do with specialized curriculums?

It seems like there is deliberate specialization.

Presentation continued with free and reduced lunch data percentages is a good indicator of socio/economic diversity. An error in the FRL data for elementary was observed. The rates should be twice that shown and will be corrected.


What is the email we can use for asking questions?

[email protected]

The meeting adjourned at 7:57 p.m.



The following questions/comments were submitted after the meeting adjourned


Capacity of each building is not taking into account special programs (JAMS, CSI, etc) Special education needs/classroom/therapy space etc. How do we factor that? What is the cost efficiency for each building?

  • Programs

  • Transportation

  • Building maintenance

  • Cost of staffing


How much is each building subsidized?


Is it possible to get the recent dates on remodels or additions of mini-builds for each building?


Two questions:

  • Can you show the virtual academy breakdown + out of district #’s

  • Overlay quintile breakdown by geospatial component (tract, etc.)

    • LD investment by neighborhood


Request for projections for ORLA & possibly Avanti


Observation of FRL error in elementary data.


Three questions/points:

  • Can we get more data on portables? Who has them? How old are they? Etc. etc.

  • As far as building conditions go, do any of them have heating/AC as a parameter?

  • Since buildings are renovated every 30 years, can we have some more data on expenditures in the last 30 years?


What is the Home School Service area count for the High Schools?


Given we are facing potential scenarios of consolidating to large school sizes – is there research reflecting social or educational outcomes for students?


Incoming transfer counts. What is the % of transfers on IEP/504 that have a cost?


Transfers into and out of district broken down by grade level & by school path.


Building maintenance expenditures.