GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central School Corporation is focused on the future.

The school board heard from three long-range planning experts at its June 10 meeting, each of whom shared insights into how the district can plan for the future based on growth predictions.

Among the proposed changes was to re-purpose Greenfield Intermediate School to an elementary school and to reorganize the school system’s elementary and intermediate grade structure, switching from the current K-3 and 4-6 format to K-4 and 5-6.

Dr. Jerome McKibben was hired in March to conduct an extensive demographic review for the school corporation. Superintendent Harold Olin said that McKibben is the most widely used demographer for schools in the country, having recently done work in New Palestine and Pendleton.

McKibben shared his insights with the board on Monday.

The board also heard from Dr. Paul Gabriel, a consultant with Administrator Assistance — a consulting firm consisting of retired school administrators — who was part of the team conducting a review of the school system’s facilities over the past few months.

Gabriel and two fellow team members shared their findings, which included facility reviews, interviews and recommendations.

Olin said their findings would be a great resource as the school board creates a strategic plan for the future.

“As we have observed enrollment changes in our school corporation over the past decade, in particular, we want to ensure that we are using our facilities to meet the needs that are most pressing in our school community,” Olin shared with the board.

McKibben, owner of McKibben Demographic Research out of Rock Hill, S.C., shared detailed population and enrollment forecasts for 2024 through 2034.

Based on demographic data collected from the school system, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Indiana departments of education and health, McKibben shared that the Greenfield-Central schools will experience slow population growth and steady enrollment over the next 10 years, primarily due to a growing elderly population, an increase in empty nest households and a relatively small number of households turning over.

Total district enrollment is forecasted to decrease by 153 students, he said, or -3.6%, from academic years 2023-24 through 2028-29.

Total enrollment is expected to increase by 90 students, or 2.2%, from academic years 2028-29 through 2033-34.

McKibben predicted the biggest influx of age groups in the district to occur in the birth to 9 and 25 to 44-year-old age groups. “These tend to be young families with school age or preschool age children, which helps increase the size of the district’s relatively small 0-4 age groups,” he shared in his report.

He predicted the largest decrease in age groups will occur within the local 18-to-24-year-old age range, who will leave the district to go to college or move to other urbanized areas.

The second population decrease will be among those 70 and up who will be downsizing their housing units, he said.

McKibben said the primary factors causing Greenfield Central Community Schools enrollment to increase over the next 10 years include the increase in empty nest households and the relatively low number of elderly housing units turning over, in addition to a steady influx of young families.

The average size of the graduating class of seniors is projected to be 331 students from academic years starting in 2024 to 2033, compared to a graduating class of 355 over the last five years.

McKibben said the district’s total elementary enrollment (grades kindergarten through third grade) will slowly increase after the 2028-29 school year.

He added that the median age of the population in the Greenfield-Central school district will increase from 40.6 years in 2020 to 43.1 in 2035, confirming the continuation of the district’s aging trend.

The average household size in the Greenfield Central Community Schools district decreased from 2.54 in 2010 to 2.42 in 2020, said McKibben, which helps explain why the district is experiencing smaller student yields from their housing units.

“Even if the district continues to have some amount of annual new housing unit construction over the next 10 years, the rate, magnitude and price of existing home sales will become the increasingly dominant factor affecting the amount of population and enrollment change,” his report states.

Gabriel shared his report findings after his team spent the past several months visiting all the school district’s facilities and interviewing all the school principals and department directors, as well as Greenfield’s mayor.

“We are very impressed with the quality of your staff, as well as their friendliness and their willingness to allow us to take time out of their busy schedules,” his report shared.

Based on their findings, the team made the following recommendations:

—Develop and implement a long-term strategic plan to guide the district through the next 10 years.

—Employ a marketing firm or marketing specialist to work with the district on developing and implementing a marketing plan.

—Expand curricular offerings, which will allow high school students to be prepared to take maximum advantage of the county’s future career center.

—Consider grade reorganization changes.

As for as reorganizing grades, the team presented four possible options:

—Shift fourth grade back to the elementary schools.

—Move pre-K into each elementary school.

—Re-purpose Weston Elementary as a pre-K and daycare center.

—Not only re-purpose Weston Elementary as a pre-K and daycare center, but also change Greenfield Intermediate School to an elementary school and move to a K-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12 system-wide grade structure.

Olin said the school board is in no hurry to make any decisions based on the latest findings.

“I would be cautious about jumping to any conclusions about any of those recommendations that were made. It’s certainly good to see those, but there’s also a good likelihood that we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing for now,” said the superintendent.

“We’ll want some community input on that (before the school board makes any decisions),” he said. “It’s one thing for an outside group to make some recommendations, but we certainly want to make sure we’re listening to our community.”