Powering school district decisions with data.
CLIENT SUCCESS: NAPA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
What happens when a school district faces declining enrollment? Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) tackled this very question in 2019 and 2020. Until about five years ago, the District experienced a long period of growth. However, recent demographic shifts (including a falling birthrate) led to a decline in enrollment, leaving the District with its current headcount of approximately 17,000 students.
Working with the District’s Chief Business Official Rabinder (Rob) Mangewala, King Consulting helped NVUSD manage the unique issues associated with a rapid decline in enrollment. Through this partnership they solved several challenges, including accurately predicting enrollment, identifying where enrollment growth and declines were occurring, dialoguing with the public about school closures, and adjusting staff and budgeting strategies.
TK – Grade 12
Enrollment is a primary source of revenue for school districts. At NVUSD, few anticipated that years of growth would be followed by a steep decline in enrollment, eventually leading to financial difficulties.
The District needed to adjust previously-expanded programs and staff levels to match their new reality. Accurate enrollment projections and facilities audits could help guide budget and staffing choices. This in turn, could restore the District’s dwindling cash reserves and reassure the public that future spending would be commensurate with student numbers.
“King was very committed to us. Having a demographer come out and co-present with me helped communicate how valid the data was. That was a very important part in our success.”–Rabinder Mangewala
Chief Business Official
The King Approach
Together King and NVUSD set to work, gathering and interpreting enrollment and facilities capacity data to inform upcoming decisions. Key choices the school District needed to make included how to adjust staffing and whether or not to close schools.
To tackle the tough issue of school closures, the Board of Education established a 7-11 District Advisory Committee, composed of local stakeholders. The Committee was tasked with reviewing data about the potential closures and making a recommendation to the Board of Education.
It was the work of King and the District’s Executive Team to acquire, analyze, and present reliable data for the Committee. Rob Murray from King prepared community demographics trends and facility capacity analyses. Rob Mangewala prepared complementary budget reports. Both sets of information showed that there was reason to consider closing some schools. Thanks to the care and detail put into these briefings, the information was well-received.
In the end, the Committee recommended to close some facilities, but came to that decision with care. Thanks to thorough investigation beforehand, the District knew that one school to be closed had 120 students total but only 20 students in the nearby area, making its closure inconvenient for fewer students.
Enlisting King’s assistance for data-driven decision-making helped NVUSD be prepared when the COVID pandemic hit as well. The District had already cleaned up a lot of its financial struggles by adjusting its resources and budget. King’s Rob Murray was also able to adjust the next year’s enrollment projections to account for pandemic-related declines in enrollment. This left them better prepared to weather the drastic changes COVID brought to operations. Once again, it was paramount to have data that was timely, available, and accurate. King delivered on all counts.
With King’s assistance, NVUSD was able to craft a proactive response to major enrollment and budgetary changes. In order to create this response, NVUSD needed accurate enrollment and revenue predictions. King’s 2019 and 2020 projections and facilities audits were highly accurate, allowing the District to adjust staffing and facilities budgets appropriately.
Additionally, thanks to this partnership, the surrounding community developed a greater understanding of the reasons behind school closures. By presenting data that accurately represented the eventual outcome, King and NVUSD fostered trust between school authorities and the communities they serve. Outcomes like this demonstrate what schools can do when empowered with data.