Case Study – Manheim


Located in northwestern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Manheim Central School District encompasses 78.2 square miles of scenic and productive agricultural lands that are being increasingly converted to residential use.

The Story

Recently faced with a series of difficult decisions to be made in response to new residential development growth and the failure of older school buildings to meet safety standards, Manheim Central required a thorough, dependable evaluation and analysis of the region’s demographic trends. Moving forward, the district was at a crossroads to make appropriate planning decisions regarding the district’s building and classroom needs, staffing and program planning.

The Challenge

  • In 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education stopped providing school districts throughout the state with demographic data critical to shaping long-range planning decisions.
  • Older school buildings failed to meet permit and safety code standards and were marked for condemnation, thereby increasing enrollment pressure on other schools.
  • This small community and school district needed updated demographic and planning data along with an affordable package of consulting services and software capabilities that was tailored to their specific needs.

The Objectives

  • Provide in-depth and geographically detailed enrollment data and forecasts for Manheim Central School District so that the district could make informed and effective long-term decisions in response to the condemnation of older buildings and the potential need for new school building construction to accommodate potential student growth from new housing.
  • Provide comprehensive research of the district in terms of city planning and residential construction to inform and support the decision-making process.
  • Provide a mix of consulting services and enrollment forecasts with various software tools to establish a variety of planning options for district staff.

Phase I

Initial Consultation

Initially there was some hesitation from board members regarding Davis Demographics’ California/Texas headquarters locations relative to the district. Concerns were quickly alleviated as the Davis Demographics team demonstrated its extensive research capabilities, obtaining information about upcoming city projects that even board members weren’t aware of. The Davis Demographics team was so thorough and personal in their consultation that Manheim Central felt as though they were a part of the community.

Although there were other local demographics companies under consideration, the school district chose Davis Demographics for its leadership qualities, its well-rounded consultation that incorporated community impact, and its ability to not only provide valuable statistics and evaluation, but also give helpful insight and commentary on what that information would mean for the district in the short- and long-term.

Phase II


Leveraging its advanced SchoolSite software built on GIS mapping technology, Davis Demographics produced comprehensive demographic reports and analyses of the region. Through this software tool, Davis Demographics was able to:

  • Map and track residential development
  • Prepare population characteristics reports
  • Analyze school walk zones
  • Identify impacted schools and determine methods to mitigate the impact
  • Experiment with attendance boundaries

Based on the information gained through this process, Davis Demographics helped the district obtain a “big picture” look at enrollment trends as well as detailed data to assist in creating numerous solutions for meeting students’ needs into the future. This positioned Manheim Central’s board to effectively consider the heavy decisions it faced — a process the community would be watching closely — and make strategic, informed decisions.

In addition, Davis Demographics assisted the school district in implementing an online application — Davis Demographics’ SchoolSite Locator — that enables Manheim Central staff, as well as students and their parents, to quickly and conveniently look up which schools serve their neighborhood. This resource proved its value almost immediately for Manheim Central’s superintendent, Dr. Peter Aiken. When conversing with a local parent who was unsure which elementary school their child should attend, Dr. Aiken was able to access the SchoolSite Locator app on his phone and instantly provide a correct answer for the parent.

Phase III

Bringing It All Together

The consulting services and resources Davis Demographics provided to Manheim Central allowed the Pennsylvania school district to come to an educated resolution regarding what the district has described as monumental decisions for its future.

More importantly, through its association with Davis Demographics, the district has the capability to keep up with continuing demographic trends, residential development and a variety of issues to consistently and accurately be prepared for the future.