Before I return to The Demographer’s Facility Study, allow me a brief comment on something that doesn’t appear in the report: the impact of private schools on growth in the Huntsville City Schools.
Within walking distance of the facility that New Century Technology High School shares with Columbia High is the new 87,000 sq. ft., 55-acre campus of Pope John Paul II [JPII] High School, formerly known as Catholic High. This $13 million facility opened in fall 2010. Founded in 1996 with 60 freshmen and sophomores, JPII’s enrollment is now 348.
The Diocese of Birmingham and private donors did not decide to invest so much money in expanding this school without good reason to believe that it will continue to grow. I wonder, did anyone, for example the school board members, or Demographer Steve Salmon, ask PJP2 if it would let them have a look at its demographic forecasts?
Maybe I will ask. I would certainly be interested in comparing studies conducted by JPII to Salmon’s.
And JPII isn’t the only private school with an enrollment that is growing way out of proportion to that of any of the Huntsville City schools. There is Randolph, which opened a second campus last year to accommodate its growing K-12 programs. There’s Madison Academy and Westminster Christian, both gaining students. And so on.
Now, a lot is made of the impact BRAC families are going to have on HCS, but this might not be as significant as forecast.
We all know that rightly or wrongly Alabama has a poor reputation in the US, well, worldwide, to be frank. Thank God for Mississippi, right? Dare I suggest that folks coming into the state from Virginia might be a tad apprehensive about enrolling their kids in the HCS?
Private school tuition at JPII, Randolph, Westminster, Madison Academy, etc. is prohibitive for many Huntsvillians. But the BRAC folks are coming from areas with a higher cost of living, higher home prices, and higher private school tuitions. They have solid and stable incomes.
So I think this is a valid question: just how many BRAC families who have already arrived have enrolled their kids in the HCS? How many who are coming plan to do so?
It’s not a question Salmon considered worth asking, not for a measly $70,000.
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