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ENROLLMENT AT NORTH PROJECTED TO INCREASE BY 12 PERCENT

Williamsville School District officials are contemplating how big is too big following projections that enrollment at North High School will exceed 1,600 students in five years.

That's 12 percent higher than the current population at North, according to a five-year enrollment projections report that was presented to the School Board last week.

"The dilemma the board is going to need to address is whether or not that is acceptable," said Assistant Superintendent Henry G. Peters. "The facility at North can sustain the growth, but do we want to have enrollment at one high school that is significantly higher than that at the other two?"

The five-year enrollment projections, prepared by a University at Buffalo demographics consultant, show both East and South high schools remaining stable at around 1,000 and 950 students, respectively. School district officials have yet to outline their options. They insist that building a new school is not one they need to consider.

The projected increase at the high school level, Peters said, is only the result of a temporary bubble leaving the middle school. In addition, the district already planned a renovation at North that will add five new classrooms by the 2004-05 school year.

The enrollment projections report predicts an overall increase of 7.5 percent at the high school level in five years.

Total high school enrollment is projected to peak at 3,651 students in the 2007-08 school year, and then decline to about 3,570 in the following two years.

Districtwide, enrollment is expected to remain stable through the 2006-07 school year. A 1.7 percent decline in enrollment is anticipated at the elementary school level, though Maple West is expected to experience a modest increase.

Peters said the stability of districtwide enrollment will be maintained because kindergarten classes are projected to be about 150 pupils smaller than the size of the senior class over the next five years, which will offset the approximately 150 new students per year that are projected to move into the district, he said.

Enrollments are expected to rise slightly at both Mill and Heim middle schools, according to the report.

Heim, with 858 students currently enrolled, will see a short-term increase to about 895 students next school year before subsequently declining to about 835 students by the 2006-07 school year.

The current year's districtwide enrollment is 10,725, which is 80 more than had been projected by the district's consultant a year ago.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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