How Districts Can Improve Their School Capacity Planning

Posted by Ron Van OrdenO

October 24, 2019

Hoonuit’s Enrollment Analytics solution helps districts improve their school capacity planning, and, in turn, meet students’ needs more effectively.

The goal of capacity planning is to ensure that the number of available seats in a given school matches the school’s enrollment as closely as possible. When district leaders have calculated school capacity effectively, each school in the district is suitably full, resources are evenly distributed, and classrooms aren’t overcrowded or underutilized.

While ensuring every student has a seat may seem simple, doing so can improve student performance and create a more dynamic learning environment. Especially in a larger district, making such assurances isn’t always easy, but data-driven enrollment analytics tools transform raw data into actionable insight, helping district leaders make well-informed capacity planning decisions.

The Challenge of School Capacity Planning

School districts often find themselves in a state of flux, and it can be difficult to determine how many students are coming and going at any given time. What’s more, pinpointing capacity in a school or district can present a challenge simply because different stakeholders can have conflicting definitions of the term.

For instance, a district administrator’s working definition of capacity is typically “operational capacity,” which refers to how many students a particular school can hold. Conversely, a district’s facilities department often operates based on “functional capacity,” or how many students can comfortably use a particular space.

These definitions can often be at odds with each other, and reconciling these disparate figures can be a barrier to accurate and efficient capacity planning. For these reasons and more, many school administrators struggle with calculating, understanding, and utilizing school capacity data in an efficient manner.

Taking School Capacity Planning to the Next Level

DecisionInsite, powered by Hoonuit, enables school administrators to improve their capacity planning by leveraging intelligent dashboards to generate highly accurate enrollment projections.

Capacity planning begins with one essential question: what is the capacity for each school in a district? Hoonuit’s analysts consult with school administrators to pinpoint their specific needs, and if a district is unsure of its capacity, we can perform a preliminary study to generate a baseline.

Hoonuit provides district leaders with its proprietary elementary, middle, and high school capacity calculators, which break down relevant metrics like classroom count, classroom loading, rooms allotted, and the typical loading for other classrooms at that grade level, and help establish a dialogue between district administrators and facilities personnel. School principals contribute their own insights via school room surveys that detail how their buildings are currently being used. Upon completion, site capacities are entered into the system and become an integral component of all salient reports.

This data serves as the foundation of an intuitive dashboard that highlights problem areas — think: schools in danger of running out of seats — in red. The insights provided by this dashboard enable school administrators to drill down on specific capacity issues.

Since all a district’s data can “live” in the Hoonuit platform, the district’s capacity values can be evaluated in the context of other key metrics and analyses, such as enrollment forecasts. This enables key decision-makers to grasp how future growth might affect the district’s number of open seats — and develop appropriate solutions accordingly. For instance, if district administrators notice that School A is on pace to run out of seats by 2024 but School B is in close proximity and will have seats available for the foreseeable future, they can funnel students into School B in order to balance enrollments across the district.

Our Enrollment Analytics solution is unique because it uses location to yield more accurate and dynamic projections. Housing development construction is one of the most important factors that goes into school capacity planning, and our solution comes equipped with a “dwelling unit layer” that fits over a projection and shows precisely where residential buildings will be added. Planners can also see what enrollment would look like “sans development,” which adds another layer of dimension to capacity planning.

The Hoonuit Solution

With Hoonuit’s help, districts are able to revamp their school capacity planning projects and meet students’ needs more effectively — not only for next year, but for up to ten years down the line.

Hoonuit’s Enrollment Analytics solution gives school administrators access to accurate capacity values for all their school sites. This real-world information enables district leaders to proactively plan for the future and ensure that each student has the necessary resources to succeed.

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