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Report predicts school enrollment will rise, fall

April 08, 2001

Report predicts school enrollment will rise, fall



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County public schools are expected to gain 310 students by the 2005-2006 school year, and then lose about 353 by the end of 2009, according to an enrollment report from the School Board.

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The report estimates there will be 19,721 students in the school system in 2005-2006, but then drop to 19,368 in 2009, according to Dennis McGee, the board's director of facilities management.

The 2009 enrollment would place the enrollment number to a similar count for this school year's starting enrollment, which is 19,461 students.

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McGee's numbers differ from state projections, which estimate Washington County will drop to under 19,000 students in 2009, or a loss of about 500 students. The state projects the county will have 18,900 students in 2009.

McGee said he uses a more conservative approach than the state in figuring out enrollments based on the school system's current numbers, which include drop-out rates, enrollment levels and birth rates.

Washington County uses enrollment projections to determine staffing levels, to plan meals, to review bus capacities and to prioritize renovation projects. The Maryland Public School Construction Program uses enrollments to determine future facilities' needs and whether to approve capital improvement projects, according to the report.

The board uses past enrollments, grade-succession ratios and in-county migration trends to determine enrollment projections.

The report states more county residents are moving to Smithsburg, Halfway and new subdivisions south and east of Hagerstown. The largest enrollment declines have been from older residential neighborhoods in Hagerstown.

McGee expects the number of new housing units in Washington County to remain steady, which probably wouldn't have a major impact in future enrollments.

"While Washington County has seen an increase in retail and commercial construction, housing starts have not moved from the 640-per-year level of four years ago," McGee said in a recent report to the School Board.

Enrollment projections for each county can be found on the Internet at: www.op.state.md.us/msdc/index.html within Updated Demographic and Socioeconomic Profile - MD Outlook.

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