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Schools preparing for more students

April 21, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - With Washington County Public Schools facing a projected enrollment increase in the next school year, the system's chief operating officer on Tuesday suggested possible short-term and long-term ways to deal with the change.

In a presentation to the Washington County Board of Education during Tuesday's meeting, William Blum, chief operating officer, said he projects enrollment in September 2004 will increase by 268 students compared to September 2003.

This follows an enrollment increase of 263 students for this school year and 169 for the last year, Blum said.

March enrollment was about 20,150 students, he said.

Blum discussed short-term ways to address increased enrollment at some schools, methods he said he will suggest if schools encounter space problems.

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One option would be to turn computer labs into classrooms, putting the computer equipment on a cart that could be taken to other classrooms, he said.

Another option would be to add portable classrooms at schools, he said. While not ideal, it is a way to deal with increased school attendance, he said.

Another approach would be to reject more special permission applications for students asking to attend schools outside their home districts, he said.

Blum told the board he will study two more long-term ways to address the enrollment increase, ideas he said he was not advocating at this point.

One would be to build a school near Eastern Elementary School to serve pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, he said.

Another would be to increase the size of Pangborn Elementary School when a planned renovation of the school occurs, he said.

Either change would prompt a redrawing of school boundaries, he said.

Such changes would have to be adopted by the school board.

During his presentation, Blum noted that the number of single-family housing starts in Washington County has doubled in the last few years. More houses generally result in more students, he said.

Among other factors affecting the enrollment numbers is a reduced dropout rate, he said.

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