03/09/12 Dr. Jerome McKibben readily admits that he doesn’t have a crystal ball that allows him to see into the future, but his training an experience in the field of demographic forecasting has proven to be extremely accurate. McKibben has been working with the Plymouth Schools over the last several months to help them with re-districting and predicting future trends in the number of students that could be attending the local schools.

He reported his findings based on the past and those possible for the next ten years.

McKibben made a short presentation on March 6 to the Plymouth School Board. He said, “We are in the final phase of the boundary modification.” Redistricting helps to ensure that each school has a balanced enrollment in a number of different categories including those children from families that qualify for free and reduced meals and textbooks, ethnicity, and a number of other considerations.   Redistricting could mean that some children will be assigned to a different school than the one they are presently attending.

Plymouth Schools are in a unique position currently with plans to open the Discovery Academy in the fall of 2012. the Academy will be housed in the present Washington elementary building. Students from all over the school district could apply to be a part of the new project-based academy. The final step in determining just who will be enrolled will depend on a blind lottery drawing.

McKibben pointed out that he is not making projections, just forecasting. He presented a power point presentation of his forecast assumptions. Following are some of the assumptions that he presented:

“There will be no short term economic recovery in the next 18 months and the national, state or regional economy does not go into deep recession at anytime during the 10 years of the forecasts; (Deep recession is defined as four consecutive quarters where the GDP contracts greater than 1% per quarter)


Interest rates have reached an historic low and will not fluctuate more than one percentage point in the short term; the interest rate for a 30 year fixed home mortgage stays below 6%;


The rate of mortgage approval stays at 1999-2002 levels and lenders do not return to “sub-prime” mortgage practices;


There are no additional restrictions placed on home mortgage lenders or additional bankruptcies of major credit providers;


The rate of housing foreclosures does not exceed 125% of the 2005-2007 average ofMarshallCountyfor any year in the forecasts;


All currently planned, platted, and approved housing developments are built out and completed by 2020. All housing units constructed are occupied by 2021.”



The unemployment rates for theSouth Bendmetropolitan

area will remain below 10.0% for the 10 years of the forecasts.”


The rate of students transferring into and out of the

Plymouth Community Schools will remain at the 2008-09 to 2011-12

average years of the forecasts.”


There will be no building moratorium within the district.


Businesses within the district and the Greater South Bend Metropolitan

Area will remain viable;


The number of existing home sales in the district that are a result of “distress sales” (homes worth less than the current mortgage value) will not exceed 20% of total homes sales in the district for any given year;


Housing turnover rates (sale of existing homes in the district) will

remain at their current levels. The majority of existing home sales are

made by home owners over the age of 55;


Private school and home school attendance rates will remain constant;


The recent decline in new home construction has ended and building

rates have stabilized;


The rate of foreclosures for commercial property remains at the 2004-

2007 average for the South Bend Metropolitan area.”


McKibben explained that since many people from thePlymoutharea work inSouth Bend, trends in that portion of the state could impactMarshallCountyas well. He said, “It is key that the unemployment rates for theSouth Bendmetropolitan area will remain below the 10 percent for the 10 years of the forecast.”



McKibben feels that both the number of students enrolled in private schools or who are being home schooled will remain constant. Additionally, he indicated that he thinks the rate of students transferring into or out of the Plymouth Schools Corporation will remain at the 2008-2009 to 2011-2012 rates.

His thoughts on how other area schools will be affected vary from whatPlymouthmay experience. He said, “Seventy-five percent of the school districts are going to see the elementary population drop. Plymouth Schools doesn’t have that problem.”

Responding to Board Member Todd Samuelson’s questioning, McKibben said the biggest variable would be some kind of radical change in the housing market. He further said he doesn’t think the use of state supported vouchers that allow students to be enrolled in private schools and receive some financial assistance from the state will be a factor. He said, “I think it will be a wash.”

Although not a part of his planned presentation, McKibben did speak to the problems of some smaller school districts that are experiencing financial setbacks. He said, “They may have to consolidate not because they want to, but because they have to.”