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Williamsville projecting growth at two schools

Enrollments at two elementary schools in the Williamsville School District -- Maple East and Maple West -- are likely to grow substantially over the next five years, while Country Parkway stands to lose a comparable number of pupils, a recent study found.

Enrollments at both schools on Maple Road in Amherst are projected to increase by 11 percent or more by 2011, a "moderate to large increase," according to a study commissioned by the school district.

Country Parkway, which draws more than half its pupils from Clarence, will likely lose about 10 percent of its pupils, Syracuse University researchers Scott Shablak and Steven Grossman found.

Enrollments at the district's other elementary schools -- Dodge, Forest and Heim -- are projected to increase 4 percent or less.

It's too early to determine whether the changes will translate into a need to redistrict any of Williamsville's pupils, according to Superintendent Howard S. Smith.

"I'm trying not to get anyone concerned about what school their child is going to," he said in an interview. "There's no preconceived notion we're going to have to move anybody."

The district is paying Shablak and Grossman $15,730 to conduct a two-phase study of enrollment. The researchers recently presented the School Board the findings of the first phase, enrollment projections.

The two are expected to present information by early April about the capacity of each school, Smith said. That information, combined with the enrollment projections, will help the board determine whether any changes need to be made.

Overall district enrollment will drop slightly -- 1.4 percent -- in the next five years, the study found. Generally, entering kindergarten classes have been, and are expected to continue to be, smaller than the graduating 12th-grade classes.

But an influx of school-age children into the district mitigates what otherwise would be a fairly substantial loss. That has helped Williamsville buck the local trend of dwindling enrollments, Grossman said.

"That indicates people moving into the district," he told the board.

In the past few years, the district was on track to lose 250 to 500 students, he said. But because of the number of people moving into Williamsville, the district only lost 50 students.

Through the next five years, middle school enrollment overall is expected to remain fairly stable, he said. Enrollments at Transit, Mill and Heim middle schools are projected to fluctuate by 3 percent or less. The number of students at Casey Middle, however, is expected to drop by 8 percent.

At the high school level, enrollment at Williamsville East is expected to remain relatively stable through 2011.

Williamsville North, however, is in line to lose 8 percent of its enrollment. Enrollment at Williamsville South, which draws students from Williamsville and other areas south of Maple Road, is expected to drop by 10 percent.

Smith said the projected changes in the various schools are relatively minor.

"It looks like our enrollments are pretty stable. That gives us the luxury to spend more time on this," he said. "We may be in the nice situation of not having to decide anything right away."


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