As current trends continue to develop, student enrollment in the San Mateo-Foster City School District is expected to progressively increase over the course of the coming years, according to a district report.
The school district will take in an additional 264 students next year, and then continue to grow at a rate that could bring 1,121 more students into local schools by the 2016 fall semester, according to the report authored by demographer Tom Williams.
Williams, who presented his report Thursday at the district board of trustees meeting, said elementary school enrollment in San Mateo and Foster City region will maintain a consistent growth rate while other surrounding areas may not.
He attributed the future popularity spike in part to local birth rates remaining high throughout the recent recession, while fewer babies were being born in other areas of the county and region during that same time.
As well, he said that the high scores earned consistently on the Academic Performance Index (API) by students make the district a target for families with young children who are willing to relocate their home to an area featuring a quality school system.
The district's most recent API score is 840, a point higher than the year prior. That is 24 points more than the average of all other students in San Mateo County school districts, and is 62 points greater than the statewide average.
The state Board of Education generates API scores as a measurement of each school’s academic performance, based in part on the standardized test scores of students.
Williams spoke unfavorably of the parents who put such great emphasis on API scores in considering where to live, and which school district is the right choice for their child.
"Unfortunately, people have become obsessed with this," he said.
Board president Lory Lorimer Lawson agreed, and said that she felt it is a responsibility of those familiar with the district to speak up when others express opinions about a school system based solely on test scores.
Superintendent Cynthia Simms added that the high performance of district students according to the API will continue to drive the local housing market, and make the region an attractive location for families with school-age children.
To that regard, Williams said his research indicates that apartments are becoming, and will continue to be, the most popular form of housing for families with children in local district.
Since 2006, in the district there has been a 14.6% enrollment increase of students living in apartments. That compares to only a 3.6% increase of students in single-family homes, according to the report.
Williams said he believes the popularity of apartments will give way to more attached housing development being proposed across the region, as it is the preferred affordable option to the considerable costs found in the detached housing market.
But trustee Julie Chan said she believed more affordable single family homes will become available in Foster City due to the choice of local elderly citizens who prefer to live in the proposed senior living community.
Trustee Ellen Mallory Ulrich opined that the school system may not be able to handle much more growth, and questioned whether local city governments should reconsider continuing to approve new residential development projects in the district.