We hope everyone has had a joyous holiday season! As the year winds down and we settle into a new office, this month's newsletter focuses on a research brief written by MAPC regarding the relationship between the production of housing and school enrollment.
Debunking the Myth that Housing Production Drives Up School Enrollment
Have you read the recent research brief from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), yet? In our opinion, it is a must read for all public officials involved in municipal land use and development.
We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve heard community members concerned that new housing production will bring too many school children to their community and overburden the public schools. It is the most common objection to housing production that we hear from communities.
MAPC published a research brief in October that analyzes and debunks the conventional wisdom that housing production is linked to school enrollment growth in Massachusetts: “The Waning Influence of Housing Production on Public School Enrollment in Massachusetts.”
As stated in the Brief:
“These apprehensions are rooted in the demographic and development patterns of the late 20th century, when Baby Boomers were in their prime child-rearing years. Their residential choices caused housing stock, enrollment, and school expenditures to grow quickly in many suburbs . . . We find that the conventional wisdom that links housing production with inevitable enrollment growth no longer holds true.”
If increased school enrollment isn’t due to housing production, then why are some school districts growing while others are not? The brief finds that districts with the most growth are in one of two types of communities: 1) highly desirable, expensive communities with strong school systems (e.g., Arlington, Belmont, Brookline) or 2) racially/ethnically diverse, lower-income communities with more affordably-priced market-rate housing (e.g., Chelsea, Everett, Revere).
We encourage you to read this seven-page brief for yourself and share it widely with your fellow-community members.
Updates from JM Goldson
We're excited to kick off the new year with some great projects, including a property condition survey in Onset Village and Wareham Village in Wareham. This project, ongoing until June, will be assessing the condition of properties and public infrastructure in both villages. To complete the project, we've partnered with Silva Engineering in Bridgewater, MA.
In Westwood, we conducted a community survey to gather input for an update to the Open Space and Recreation Plan, and the many responses gave a great idea of what open space and recreation resources the community wants to see improved or implemented in Westwood. Read about the process here, where Jennifer is quoted about the survey. Lastly, we have also gotten started on the Wellesley Housing Production Plan this month, with Barrett Planning LLC as the lead consultant.