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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • District 709 hires demography firm to analyze facilities needed

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  • MORTON — District 709 has hired a demography firm to help determine future facilities needs.
    Cropper GIS of Dublin, Ohio, will provide population and student enrollment forecasts through 2025, analyze demographic dynamics and offer thoughts on facilities.
    Superintendent Lindsey Hall said forecasts for attendance areas for the district's four elementary schools will be especially useful.
    Facilities recommendations won't include factors such as ages of buildings and space needs, "so they'll be just one piece of the puzzle," Hall said.
    Hall said Cropper was hired from a recommendation made during a facilities advisory committee meeting after the committee saw a district population and enrollment trends presentation by Assistant Superintendent Craig Smock. The committee — composed of district administrators, School Board members, teachers, parents and residents — has been meeting for several months and is expected to offer recommendations to the board after its Jan. 30 meeting.
    "After hearing Craig's presentation, the committee thought a deeper look from a professional demography firm would be beneficial," Hall said.
    "We solicited proposals, and Cropper had the best one."
    School Board Vice President Tim Taylor is a committee member. He said hiring Cropper last month was a good idea from both financial and facilities standpoints.
    Hall said Cropper will be paid about $10,000.
    "That's a reasonable cost because we need to be looking five to 10 years down the road," Taylor said.
    "I don't think the information we'll be getting will be that much different from what Craig (Smock) presented, but we'll have more detailed data."
    Cropper is expected to report to the board Feb. 4, after the final committee meeting.
    Hall said that's not a concern.
    "We couldn't get schedules aligned for Cropper to come to a board meeting in January, but I think the committee has enough solid information to make its recommendations," she said.
    Hall said she was impressed with Cropper's work in a previous assignment for DeKalb District 428, and the company has done demographic reports for other central Illinois school districts.
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    Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Read his Stein Time blog on pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.
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