Demographic Study Shows Continued Growth Kicking Off Long Range Planning
Ozark School District continues to grow, with this fall being one of the highest growth years the District has seen in the past five years. The Board of Education learned about the impact of the growth at the Sept. 16 meeting when Bob Templeton, vice president of the school district segment for Zonda Education, reviewed the most recent Demographic Report.
Templeton said Ozark is currently the 13th fastest growing school district in Missouri.
“You could get as high as the 10th spot because this year's enrollment growth was so strong,” he said. “The Ozark School District is the second fastest growing school district in the Springfield region.”
The increased enrollment and projected addition of more than 250 students per year means the District is approaching capacity at multiple school buildings. West Elementary is expected to exceed its capacity of 700 students in three years. Due to a larger class size, the Junior High is expected to slightly exceed its capacity of 1,000 students in two years, but then will drop down below capacity until 2027. The middle school is expected to exceed its capacity of 1,000 students in four years.
This growth takes into account the opening of the Ozark Innovation Center for the 2022-23 school year. The Innovation Center allows the District to shift grade levels, making elementary K-4, middle school 5-6, junior high 7-8 and returning the high school to 9-12.
The growth of the school is tied to the growth of new single-family housing, which is surging in Ozark, and is expected to bring an additional 300 homes every year for the next three years.
“The great thing about the community of Ozark is that we are growing. One of our challenges as a school district is ensuring we accommodate this growth,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Bauman.
In order to develop plans to accommodate the growth, the District held its first of three Long Range Planning Committee meetings on Sept. 21. Approximately 90 Ozark staff and community members attended the meeting, either in person or virtually, where they learned about the current construction projects and the future growth of the schools.
“We are grateful for a tool like our demographic study that allows us to take a scientifically-based look into the future,” Assistant Superintendent of Operations Dr. Curt Chesick said. “We can make better decisions by knowing when and where the growth is coming.”
The Long Range Planning Committee will meet again Oct. 19 to collect feedback through focus groups, as well as Nov. 16 to share results and possible solutions. This is in an effort to bring a recommendation to the Board of Education in December to decide how to best move forward to address the District’s growth.
If you would like to participate in the District’s Long Range Planning Committee, please click here.
Read the 2021 demographic study results here.