NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Dr. Richard Grip of Statistical Forecasting, LLC provided a preliminary demographic analysis regarding New Providence student population trends at the Monday, May 20 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. The district hired a demographer to provide insight into the potential school age population growth due to the Affordable Housing Settlement.

The purpose of the study was to project the enrollment numbers at each grade level for a five year period, 2019-2020 to 2023-2024. Grip analyzed the district’s historical enrollment numbers, birth and fertility rates, community population trends, and the age structure. Additionally, Grip computed “student yields” by housing type. The study also looked at the potential impact of the Affordable Housing Settlement.

According to the study New Providence is predominantly white, highly educated and affluent community. There are approximately 4,600 housing units in the borough, of which approximately 76 percent are single family homes. Only 23 percent of the housing stock is renter occupied.

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Grip noted that the school enrollment has increased annually up to the 2015-2016 school year, at which time the school age population stabilized. The district had 2,382 students in 2018-2019 compared to 2,201 students in 2009-2010. Grip used the Cohort-Survival Ratio Method (CSR) to project student population numbers five years into the future. The CSR is the NJDOE-approved methodology to project public school enrollments. The method computes each grade progression compared to the previous year. The survival ratio indicates whether the enrollment is stable, increasing, or decreasing.

Grip pointed out that while the elementary enrollment has increased the high school enrollment has declined as some students attend other institutions. He noted that in the elementary and middle school the survival rate has remained over 1.000 as the district has gained more students for these grade levels. Generally, the graduating 12th grade class has fewer students than the 1st grade class.

The study indicates that the birth rate is trending lower, for example in 2008 there were 180 births while in the past three years the birth rate has been 124-127. Grip also noted that the fertility rate is higher in New Providence vis-a-vis Union County and the state. He also pointed out that the majority of New Providence residents are between the age of 40 and 59. There are significantly less residents in their 20’s and early 30’s.

Grip listed the potential new non-age restricted multi-family housing developments with the number of housing units in each location. The units total 814 of which 165 will be designated affordable housing units. All potential new developments are within the Allen W. Roberts School area. He also provided a statistical analysis of current student yields based on their housing type with respect to the potential yields from the new developments. He noted that a single family home yields 0.97 students, townhouse/condo 0.21 and apartment 0.22 students on average.

Grip noted that the bedroom distribution on each development is not yet known, but the general proportion of typical multi-family housing developments are 60 percent one bedroom units and 20 percent each of two and three bedroom units. The large units typically yield more potential students. He gave a “rough estimate” of 222 potential new students from the developments, but pointed out that the number could be significantly lower (144) as the developments are located near the train station and the new apartments may attract young professional commuters.

Additionally, Grip said that the timeline for the construction and eventual full occupancy of the new units may take years. Furthermore, he pointed out that typically apartments yield more elementary age children than older students.

Although the large classes are now pushing through the middle and high schools Grip noted that the schools have adequate capacity to handle additional students.

In summary Grip noted that “PK-12 enrollments are projected to be fairly stable throughout the five-year projection period.” The declining birth rate is leading to less children entering kindergarten, resulting in an enrollment decline at the elementary school level. Lastly, some of the new housing projects are likely to start near the end of the five-year projection period. The impact of potential new students entering the school system could take longer than five years.

The full report and the presentation are available at the district website https://www.npsd.k12.nj.us/Domain/1.