You may have heard some rumors that the district’s growth numbers are inflated. That simply isn’t the case. This year, Eastern Carver County Schools welcomed a record-breaking kindergarten class of 786 students. That’s up 15% from 2015’s kindergarten class. Increasing numbers of elementary school students are driving our growth as a district, and stretching our existing program capacity in our elementary buildings.
It’s also true that the district was concerned that the first demographic study, completed by Davis Demographics in early 2018, might be predicting growth too aggressively. That’s why the district asked for a second one, to be sure we were making a decision based on accurate data. It’s not just the district’s data that confirms Carver County is growing quickly – a recent Star Tribune article* highlighted the county’s growth rate, and the four communities that make up our school district are all tracking impressive rates of growth.
Since Carver Elementary School opened, the City of Carver has platted, or will soon be platting, for 813 lots. The City of Chaska anticipates platting 1,147 lots over the next five years, and that doesn’t include apartment complex developments. The City of Chanhassen has approximately 800 plats within Eastern Carver County Schools boundary. New homes tend to attract new families, and based on conservative estimates we can still expect over 1,400 new students, most at the elementary level, over that time period.
If approved by voters, a new elementary school in Chaska won’t open until the fall of 2022. The district’s bond levy includes funding for that school because: a) a new school was actually less expensive than additions on existing elementary schools, and b) we are trying to avoid the space crunch that impacted students in the district in 2015. The district was at 117% capacity for elementary students in 2015, when the 2015 referendum passed. In 2017, when Carver opened, that capacity dropped – to 93%. Two years later, the district is at 95% capacity in its elementary schools, and will almost certainly be over capacity by the time the new school opens.
Months and months of research, analysis, and debate went into developing these referendum questions. The district is growing, and a new elementary school is the most cost-effective approach to addressing that growth.
When we invest in schools, property values benefit and more growth occurs, which increases the tax base, decreasing the tax burden on individual properties.
*On August 13, 2019, the Star Tribune reported: “Carver County is Minnesota’s fastest-growing county, according to the Met Council. It counts 106,000 residents, up 16% since 2010 — a rate comparable to hot spots such as Seattle and Denver, and higher than the Twin Cities’ growth rate for that period of about 9%. In the last three decades, Chaska, the county seat and largest city, has doubled its population to 28,000; same with Chanhassen, the second-largest city, which has 26,000 residents. Smaller towns on the county’s eastern side have ballooned even more dramatically; numbers in Victoria and Waconia have quadrupled, and the city of Carver has grown sixfold, to more than 4,700.”