Consulting report predicts 27 new students to join Pelham School District as result of new apartment developments


On right is a rendering of 163 Wolfs Lane, which would be built next to the Picture House.

The eight apartment and condo developments under construction or proposed for the Village of Pelham are predicted to result in about 29 school-aged children joining the town population, according to a study by WXY Architecture + Urban Design. One of the buildings, the Glass Company Building at 215 Fifth Avenue, has already been completed, and the other seven are expected to be completed by 2021. The report projects that 27 of the 29 children will be joining the Pelham School District, a number which is supported by the Ross Haber and Associates (RHA) enrollment projections, which shows that 95% of students living in the Pelham School District attended the public schools in 2017.

The report estimates that Hutchinson Elementary and Pelham Middle School will each gain 6, Colonial Elementary will gain 7 new students and Pelham Memorial High School will gain 8. The report projects that the Colonial and Hutchinson elementary schools will gain one new student per grade. These additions will have “little or no effect on school capacity in Pelham UFSD general education classrooms through the 2022-23 school-year,” according to the WXY report

The RHA report does not predict Colonial or Hutchinson Elementary to exceed capacity through the 2022-23 school year. It outlines the elementary schools projections for maximum student capacity, and both schools are expected to be able to accommodate more than one new student per general education classroom through 2023. The estimated size of a K-5 general education classroom is 25 students.

The report by WXY claims that each classroom in both elementary schools has enough space for at least four additional students, and that the only way for the schools’ capacities to be stressed would be under the circumstances of all the new elementary students being concentrated across two or fewer grades.

The same report also projects that PMHS and PMS will have room for the 14 new students which are expected to join the district.

WXY explains that they came to the estimates using the American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample file (PUMS). The researchers of WXY filtered the information in order to produce the student generation rates for each new proposed building. The PUMS file allows users to determine the number of school-aged children live in multi-family buildings, taking into account geographic area, tenure, number of bedrooms per unit, and the year the building was built.

The filters applied in this case include “(1) housing unit must be occupied, (2) non-dormitory style, (3) built after 1990, (3) in the suburban housing market outside New York City, and (4) with tenants having an annual household income greater than $30,000,” and, according to the report, focused on counties in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, in order to extract data which applies to the suburban housing market trends outside of New York City. 

The data for the projections was then tailored to the conditions of each new proposed housing development, as the buildings vary greatly in size, number of units, and price range. Notably, since the 185 Lincoln Ave development consists of separate town homes, this was taken into account and filtered accordingly, to search for data concerning detached single-family homes. This query increases the expected student-aged children by 0.5 in comparison to small multi-family developments. The PUMS data does not account for age-restricted housing, however it is predicted that any age-restricted housing would produce little to no student-aged children. In general, the PUMS data set states that student generation rates are two to three times larger in smaller multi-family units than is larger multi-family buildings.

The Village of Pelham Planning Board (PPB) has also projected the number of school-aged children in the new housing developments through the use of a different research tool, the Rutgers Method. When compared, the competing reports generate similar numbers for larger buildings, but the data begins to vary when dealing with smaller developments. The development at 8 Boulevard West is predicted by WXY to generate four more school-aged children than by the PPB, which the WXY report claims is a result of their “precise tuning for the smaller developments planned for Pelham.”

This “precise tuning” refers to using even more specific filters than PUMS allows, so as to achieve maximum accuracy in their projections. The technical appendix of the WXY report details how researchers narrowed their predictions based on the unique range of the proposed developments. For example, their research shows that smaller multi-family housing units have much higher generation rates of school-aged children than larger ones. WXY accounts for this trend, causing the projections for several of the developments to be greater than the PUMS data set originally predicted.

WXY also found that the age of the building plays a role in the number of school-aged children which live there, where small multi-family buildings produced after 1990 generate more students than ones built before, and larger multi-family buildings built after 1990 generate fewer than older developments of the same classification. However, since there is so much variability between building age and type, WXY’s team limited their PUMS filters to buildings built in or after 1990. The report explains that this method of data-gathering allows their results to be very specific to the types of buildings proposed, and that their projections for student generation rates are extremely accurate to what would be observed after the completion of the developments.

At the time of publication, Pelham School District Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ has yet to respond to an email inquiry regarding these reports.

The individual projections of school-aged children (SAC) in new housing developments from the WXY report are as follows:

  • 215 Fifth Ave (Glass Co. Building), Rental, Open, 7 units, 1.3 projected SAC
  • 8 Blvd West, Rental, Expected Completion Oct. 2019, 16 units, 5.2 projected SAC
  • 185 Lincoln Ave, Condominiums, Expected Completion Oct. 2019, 5 units, 2.7 projected SAC
  • 101 Wolfs Lane, Rental, Expected Completion Nov. 2020, 63 units, 5.7 projected SAC
  • 139 Fifth Ave, Rental, Expected Completion Nov. 2020, 28 units, 2.2 projected SAC
  • 163 Wolfs Lane, Rental, Expected Completion Nov. 2020, 27 units, 2.3 projected SAC
  • RFP North (5th & 3rd), Rental, Expected Completion Nov. 2021, 109 units, 7.0 projected SAC
  • RFP South (Sparks Avenue), Rental, Expected Completion Nov. 2021, 10 units, 2.1 projected SAC