New Housing Expected To Raise School Enrollment

Posted: December 21, 1986

An increase in new housing in West Chester has school officials predicting a sharp rise in elementary school enrollment during the next several years.

At a school board meeting Monday, district administrators presented projected enrollment for the 1987-88 school year, predicting that the majority of new students would be in the lower grades.

When school began in September, school officials reported 9,201 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Next year, administrators said, that number would probably rise to about 9,340.

Donald Howland, director of business affairs, said new development in some areas of the West Chester School District was expected to attract families with school-age children.

"We are looking at the major impact in kindergarten, first grade and second grade, and it is starting to slip into the third grade," he told the school board.

Howland said he expects the number of first graders in the district to increase by about 100 when school begins next year. At the beginning of the current school year, the district reported that 736 first graders were enrolled.

He said the elementary schools expected to see the biggest increases in enrollment are the East Goshen Elementary School, 800 N. Chester Rd., and the East Bradford Elementary School, on Frank Road.

William Brantley, the district's director of pupil services, said he is chairman of a committee conducting a study on the long-term needs of the district.

He said the report would be completed by next spring, and explained that it would outline how the district might have to expand schools to handle the influx of new students.

The study has been required by the state, and is expected to project the physical, management and academic changes the district will need between 1987 and 1992.

Brantley said that to compile information for the study, he had established steering committees at every school in the district. The committees plan to survey teachers, students and administrators to learn what changes they think are needed at the schools.

Brantley said a similar survey would be mailed to a random sample of taxpayers to discover what they think the school district needs to do in the upcoming years.

In other business, the school board voted to begin an administrative internship program in the district. The program would allow teachers who are interested in becoming administrators to spend one semester in an administrative internship.

The intern would rotate through the different departments of the district's administrative office, learning about the different jobs.

William Dowler, director of personnel, said the internships would probably begin next month.

In addition, the school board voted, 4-3, to send five members to San Francisco in April for the convention of the National School Board Association. Several members of the school board objected to the decision, saying it would be too expensive. School officials estimate the trip will cost about $1,000 per member.

"Last year at this time, we asked the superintendent to cut 10 percent of the budget, and he did. He wanted to go to a convention and we told him he had to pay his own way," said board member Martin Briner. "I don't want to go that far in breaking down our attitude of minding our budget."

Defending the decision, George Zumbano said the convention is useful to board members because they can attend seminars on how to be better board representatives.

"This is not a pleasure trip," he said. "I don't consider (the cost) at all exorbitant."

Zuber, Briner and Peter Thompson voted against the trip. Patricia O'Neil, Cleona Jackson, Janet Waller and Zumbano voted to approve it. Board members Irene Shur and Eric Rohrbach did not attend the meeting.

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