September 25, 2023

School Facility Efficiency Review Committee


Meeting 1 Minutes: 9/25/23

Committee Convened: 5:30 PM.


Welcome and greetings from Superintendent who introduced Shannon Bingham (SB) from Western Demographics, Inc. (WDI). Shannon Bingham (SB) and Flo Analytics representatives Kate Doiron and Charles Rynerson.


SB welcomed committee members, stated the districts Squaxin acknowledgement and introduced OSD Board of Education President Darcy Huffman. President Huffman greeted the committee on behalf of the Board and turned it back over to Shannon.


SB presented the committee charge and presented information from a PowerPoint.


Approximately 30 voting committee members introduced themselves
Five Ex Officio/non-voting members introduced themselves

SB provided a committee process overview and stated that committee members would be able to submit research requests that would be processed by WDI. SB explained that confidential polling will be used to collect feedback. Final reporting will be provided with ranked strategies and scenarios. SB presented typical efficiency actions that districts consider, explained key concepts such as school consolidation, boundary optimization and fractional staffing and illustrated typical parameters used for decision making. SB then responded to questions.





Committee member: Have decisions already been made or is this an open process?
SB: No. This district has not made decisions yet. Data has been collected on facilities and enrollment because that is standard operating procedure for an efficiency study.


Committee member: Is there going to be some consideration as to the fact that some schools are over-represented in the room? Have you tried to recruit from schools that are not represented tonight?
SB: We tried to get 2 representatives per school. A process was used to impartially review applications. The district was as balanced as possible in attempting to select committee members by their elementary, middle or high school affiliation. The district did not get as many staff representatives as it would have liked.


Committee member: Have you gone back and looked at how schools you’ve worked with and how they are doing post-changes.
SB: Occasionally. For the most part, recommendations achieve all original strategic goals about 85% of time. Few changes of this gravity are perfect, but in general, most efficiency actions are effective in hindsight. Some districts decide not to act on recommendations or to take as many as three years to implement. Regarding morale, most districts try to foster a soft landing for students and staff and provide supports.


Committee member: When efficiency actions fail, how much time and effort is required for remediation.
SB: The vast majority of efficiency actions that my company has addressed have been successful. M I have seldom been in error by more than 1% on forecasting associated with changes. I have not worked with a district who has regretted closing schools or changing boundaries. When making a closure recommendation, the resulting outcome must produce viable enrollments for at least a decade.


Committee member: Conversations around closures, wondering if it is going to be broader in scope.
SB: It is the Board’s responsibility to deal with budgetary issues. That will be addressed in their conversation about how they want to deploy resources. But, WDI addresses limited HR and budgetary impacts as part of the committee process, but priorities in these two areas are up to the Board. I do provide an opportunity at the end to communicate other things you think are relevant.


Committee member: What type of transparency are you going to provide back to schools?
SB: Whatever I provide to you will be public. If you made a research request and I provide the research, it will be shared.

SB: Given time constraints, I may be able to provide raw data, if you want to do your own analytics if the data is not considered intellectual property by Western Demographics or FLO Analytics. If student or staff data is personally identifiable (like Free/Reduced lunch), it will not be provided. Facility information and information that would generally be in the district’s budget, can generally be provided in raw form. Several committee members requested data from FLO.


Committee member: Clarify what our roles are specifically. How should we deal with issues that are against our personal best interest (such as decisions impacting our child’s home school)?
SB: We want you to vote your conscience. We understand that sometimes that will be based on your unique position in the district. And other times that will be for the larger interests of the district and because we have broad representation on the committee, we hope balance will be achieved.

FLO Analytics presented its demographic and enrollment forecast results via a power point presentation.





Committee member: What access does the committee have to raw data, forecast spreadsheets and calculation rubrics? To what extent does FLO consider this material proprietary? Does FLO provide error analysis using previous years’ data that would ratify the viability of its methodology?
FLO: FLO generally considers its calculations and work books proprietary and provides summary reports of the outputs. SB confirmed that Western Demographics has the same policy, but strives to assist committee members by providing raw data and other material that might facilitate additional analysis from committee members. FLO does not conduct known prior year forecasting simulations and the Pandemic makes much of this irrelevant.
FLO: FLO conducts its district-wide forecast first and backwards reconciles individual schools to the overall estimates. Once basic cohort trends are established including a birth correlation to future kindergarten, FLO overlays the housing development. Then we do it by grade.
FLO: The Pandemic and housing costs have had significant effects on school enrollments and forecasting.
FLO: The district will provide our complete, interpreted report.


Committee member: Regarding housing, how does pending, permit, future status affect timing.
FLO: Planners and developers are generally optimistic regarding their forecasting. FLO used street view to see if each development was under construction.
SB: SB offered a time frame to FLO’s estimate categories:
future 5 years out,
proposed 3 years out,
permit 2 years out,
current 1 year out.
FLO: Flow addressed the largest housing category in Figure 8. Apartments have been the leading category for a while in Western Washington. Some of Olympia’s largest apartment properties may be delayed because didn’t get their low income tax credit.


Committee member: In figure 17, how do we compare the 23-24 projection and it to the SY23-24 October enrollment? Is it possible to get an update?
FLO: Timing of the study is challenging because of when data comes in. It will either be a year old or hot off the presses. FLO has not contracted an update.
SB: If FLO can’t update, Western Demographics may be able to show actuals and apply current year differences to future years.
The Superintendent and FLO may explore an update, but timing is an issue.


Committee member: How do you integrate development into the model?
FLO: FLO adds students produced by new housing to its base cohort model and makes adjustments.
Committee member: How are we addressing transitional K and pre-school. They effect the number of students a building serves.
SB: Those programs that are based on funding and they tend to be a partial cohort. Most school demographers don’t include them in forecasting and that differs from district-to-district and state-to-state.


Committee member: Washington State does have state funded PK. When we talk about shutting down schools, we need to look at having space for PK.
FLO: Agreed. Need to consider assumptions about expansion of programs.
Committee member: What role do real estate market trends play? (Migration stats)
FLO: FLO follows market trends and the forecast reflects affordability. Housing age also plays a role in students generated.


Committee member: High school numbers—are those FTE or headcount?
FLO: We are using headcount.


Committee member: What is FLO’s role moving forward.
SB: You will probably see FLO again as presenter. They are waiting to see how they can be of use to the committee.

Committee members were asked to provide what research requests they have to WDI.

WDI presented introductory presentation material via a power point addressing generational changes in family size and child production including regional and national data on birth rates and family size. This presentation will continue at the next meeting.



Final Questions:


Committee member: Are we going to be able to look at building capacity? How are we going to do that without looking at PK?

SB: Beginning at next week’s meeting, the committee will review capacity data. Preschool information may also be available.


Committee member: Would it be possible to get the slides?
SB: Yes, the district will provide them.

Approximately 11 research requests were submitted to SB.

The committee adjourned at 8:05 PM.