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SUPERINTENDENT SAYS GROWTH BRINGS NEED TO BUILD

Lancaster Superintendent Joseph L. Girardi predicted Tuesday that growth will force the construction of an elementary school or expansion of existing ones, and he said he foresees putting a measure on the ballot in the next two to three years.

"I see a proposition coming real soon," Girardi said.

Girardi's comments come as the district begins pondering redistricting -- a prospect school officials don't relish because of the turmoil created when Lancaster redistricted just three years ago.

Lancaster is now awaiting a study by University at Buffalo demographer Peter Rogerson on future enrollment. Girardi said, however, he expects the jump to be so big it could require construction of another grade school.

Another possibility might be expanding existing grade schools, though some, such as Central Avenue and Como Park, do not have nearby property for building.

The district could also add a wing to the William Street School for fourth-graders, Girardi said. The school is now for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Lancaster last redistricted in 1998. But because it continues to grow, lines probably will need to be redrawn again. In an initial step, the School Board on Monday started discussing whether to move 64 students from Court Street to Central Avenue School for the coming school year.

The transferred students would be from homes that are already close to Central Avenue School.

Included in the move would be students whose homes are on the streets of St. John, School, Clark, Broadway (west), Park Boulevard, Lake Avenue, Old Lake, Cayuga, Franklin, Church, Holland and Pleasant, west of School.

The board will take the issue up again during a July 16 work session. The meeting will be at the high school in anticipation of a big crowd.

Just the thought of building schools and redrawing boundaries makes school officials nervous. A few years ago, the district moved about 120 students from Court Street School to Sciole Elementary to relieve crowding.

About that time, the district also opened the $17.9 million William Street School and went from half-day to full-day kindergarten. Of all the changes, what seemed to upset parents most was that children were bused past three other schools to get to one in the northwest corner of town.

Later, after the bill came due for building William Street School, taxpayers also balked.

They rejected three budgets in a row -- including one that didn't increase taxes at all -- and ushered in an era of taxpayer backlash that only recently abated.

No small wonder, then, that School Board members are urging care this time around.

"We'll have to proceed with caution," said School Board member Richard Foley. "If it appears building is warranted, then we'll proceed. But I want to make sure the numbers (about enrollment) are hard and certain."

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