MTPS studies school impact from new home developments

As surrounding school districts experience an enrollment drop, Medford Township Public Schools anticipate a sharp spike in enrollment from planned housing developments.

Superintendent Joe Del Rossi cited five developments planned in the township that should  add an influx of students.

Del Rossi highlighted three developments that would have the largest impact on school enrollment: Timber Ridge East, West and Autumn Park. The Timber Ridge East and West developments are planned for Hartford and Evesboro-Medford roads, respectively.

The East development is expected to have 86 single-family homes and bring in 43 students. The West project will consist of 102 town homes and 48 low to moderate apartments, with an estimated 60 students.

Another project the district is eyeing on Evesboro Road is Autumn Park, part of the Arc Wheeler Redevelopment Area, according to the June 22, 2018 Medford Township Planning Board meeting minutes. Autumn Park is expected to have 164 apartments, 46 town homes and 90 low to moderate apartments, with an expected 158 students from the development’s three different housing options.

Del Rossi said the district is looking at roughly 267 students, all of whom fall within the sending neighborhoods for Kirby’s Mill Elementary School. Typically when new single-family developments come to municipalities, roughly 60 percent of the families bring elementary-age students with them, he noted.

It (Kirby) could not fit 250 students at the moment,” Del Rossi stressed. “We have to look at maximizing the instructional space there. It might include looking at larger classrooms and splitting them into small-group instruction rooms and creative scheduling to utilize open classroom periods.

The superintendent said another possibility would be relocating classrooms to other buildings, but no plans are set in stone to address the influx.

As it experiences a drop in state aid due to reform in public education funding, the district could receive an increase in funding per student, according to Del Rossi. It is not yet known  what enrollment will look like when the developments are built or how ratables will be affected.

“We don’t know what the state’s going to do in regards to the state aid,” he added. “It  remains to be seen if districts seeing an increase in enrollment what it will do to their aid.

Del Rossi said the board over time will study the three developments as phases are completed to estimate the impact on schools.

We’ll have to brainstorm other ideas with our planning committee,” he explained. “We’re in communication with the township to monitor when the developments begin and are built out.