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Projected school enrollment numbers same as last year

January 17, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to use the same figures as last year to predict enrollment at the county's public schools.

But one commissioner questioned why steps weren't taken to use more specific data.

"This is just the same numbers," Commissioner James F. Kercheval said. "I would have thought we'd see some supporting information on why you're going to keep it at this level."

Kercheval said he was disappointed after the presentation by Washington County Public Schools staff on the pupil generation rate.

The rate approved by the commissioners Tuesday was .77 students per single-family home, .37 students per town home and .253 students per multifamily dwelling, according to documents. These are the total number of students predicted in elementary, middle and high school per dwelling unit.

Those rates were approved 4-1, with Kercheval opposed.

Boyd Michael, assistant superintendent for school operations, said the rates approved Tuesday are the same as those used last year. Pupil generation rates are used to predict school enrollment and when approving developments, he said.

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He said no new information had been produced to change the numbers.

School officials said they will be using new technology to calculate the numbers in the future. That technology most likely will be available later this year.

"The (Board of Education) is in the process of bringing a (geographical information system) online that will assist them in more accurately determining the pupil generation rate and wish that the current numbers be retained until that time, which is anticipated to be in 2007," according to a letter from school officials to county commissioners.

Michael said technology would help determine the pupil generation rate in different communities. For example, Smithsburg has a different rate than Hancock, he said.

Kercheval said a similar type of technology is available that allows officials to match two different databases to get more accurate data. Databases with permit data can be matched with addresses that have children in a public school, he said.

He described this data as "critical" when calculating the pupil generation rate.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan suggested a meeting to determine what Kercheval was suggesting.

"I'm not sure we have that technology," she said. "But maybe we do."

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