How to plan for unprecedented growth : a descriptive case study of Cleveland ISD, a hyper-growth district.


This descriptive case study examined Cleveland ISD’s future planning as the district faced hyper-growth in student enrollment. For this study, hyper-growth referred to 20% student enrollment growth over the previous five years. Increased student enrollment growth was a growing concern for school districts across the United States, particularly in Texas, where population growth increased. Hyper-growth presented a unique problem as school district leaders prepared for hyper-growth student enrollment (FGSC, 2017; Knight, 2017; NCES, 2019). Strategic planning for hyper-growth student enrollment included examining school finances, facilities, staffing schools, and instructional materials and resources. Organizational Theory, which Louis (2015) described as a schema that maximizes performance or benefits while, at the same time, minimizing any negative impacts, served as the descriptive case study’s framework. Organizational Theory provided structure and a guiding framework for the descriptive case study by providing descriptions, explanations, and predictions between the school system and hyper-growth. Organizational Theory allowed exploring constructivism through the paradigms associated with the theoretical framework: human relations, structure, politics, and symbolism. Informed planning was an essential component to master planning for school districts experiencing hyper-growth student enrollment. This study utilized semi-structured Zoom interviews, observations, master planning documents, financial data, demographer data, and student enrollment trends. Six participants for this study included campus and district leaders who fit the purposive criterion-based sampling criteria: aged 25–65 years, at least two years of experience, and employed or hired by Cleveland ISD for at least one year.​ The implications showcased that master planning meetings are essential for district leaders preparing for hyper-growth student enrollment through the involvement of all stakeholders, providing organization and structure through processes and systems. Recommendations were made for both district leaders and education policymakers. District leaders need to support campus leaders and teachers throughout the process, conduct regular stakeholder meetings, and appoint someone to research enrollment trends. Recommendations for education policy makers include the appointment of a mentor for hyper-growth superintendents as well as financial allotments for hyper-growth districts. This case study provided the validation that strategic, master planning for hyper-growth school districts requires organization, structure, and involvement from all stakeholders (Louis, 2015).

Hyper-growth. Fast-growth. Master planning. Long-range planning.