RACINE — The population living in the Racine Unified School District is expected to grow by around 24 percent in the next 30 years. However, growth for school-aged children is predicted at about half that rate, even when the impact of the Foxconn development is factored.
The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, the official area-wide planning agency for southeast Wisconsin, warns that predicting specific population counts out to 2050 is not an exact science, but does expect the Foxconn development to impact the number of people living within the School District.
SEWRPC adopted its initial Vision 2050 regional land use and transportation plan for the seven counties it serves — including Racine County — in 2016, but soon had to amend it to take the Foxconn development into consideration.
“We don’t do this in response to every development, in fact we don’t do this in response to nearly any development,” the agency’s executive director, Kevin Muhs told the School Board Monday.
The Foxconn Technology Group development, already underway in southwest Mount Pleasant, has goals of creating 13,000 jobs and making a $10 billion investment in Wisconsin, although the investment and jobs will be spread throughout the state.
Because of the purported size and scale of the Foxconn development, the SEWRPC decided it was necessary to amend its regional land use plan accordingly.
Foxconn, if it lives up to its promises, is expected to bring 17,000 more jobs to the area in the next 50 years than SEWRPC initially expected. Those 17,000 include Foxconn jobs as well as other economic development that comes along with it.
“Those 17,000 jobs require about 32,000 residents to fill the jobs, if you assume that people are bringing families and spouses and partners along with them,” Muhs said.
The agency predicts that 33 percent of new households coming to region in the next 30 years to fill Foxconn-related jobs would be located within the Racine Unified School District. That would make for 5,000 households beyond original expectations, or 72,000 household in 2050 compared to 54,000 in 2010.
The original projection was for a 17 percent increase in School District population from 2010 to 2050, but now a 24 percent increase is projected within that time.
There were 139,000 residents living in the district in 2010, and that population is expected to increase to 173,000 in the next 30 years.
These numbers do not necessarily mean that Unified should plan for a huge increase in student enrollment.
“The under-18 population is not expected to increase dramatically between 2010 and 2050,” Muhs said.
If the Foxconn development occurs as promised, SEWRPC predicts that the under-18 population living in the district would grow from around 34,000 in 2010 to 39,000 in 2050.
Prior to the announcement that Foxconn was coming to Mount Pleasant, the agency expected the under-18 development population to decline until around 2025 and to reach around 36,400 in 2050.
“We’re no longer expecting a decline at all in the near future, it should be a moderate increase, an increase that accelerates as the facility is built and ancillary development comes forward,” Muhs said.
Superintendent Eric Gallien said that although immediate growth isn’t expected, it looked as if the school district should plan for growth in the coming years.
Muhs responded that officials in Mount Pleasant are certainly expecting an increase in population.
Muhs added that population increases and corresponding development all depend on the progress of the Foxconn development and what kinds of workers it attracts.
“We don’t know enough at this point to know how many of those jobs are the types of jobs that people will be of the age that they’ll probably be bringing families along or soon to start families,” Muhs said.