Monday, March 13, 2006

The student enrollment boom that wasn't

The county's own statistics show that the Potomac Elementary School's overcrowding problem has been easing, not worsening.

This new information raises further questions about the school board's urgency about surplusing Seven Locks and building the $17 million Kendale project.

MCPS data in the February 22 "Potomac ES and Seven Locks ES Boundary Review" shows lower birth and immigration rates (and, what it does not discuss, increased enrollment in non-public schools) that substantially eased overcrowding at Potomac and kept Seven Locks well under-capacity.

In other words - there is less of a need than ever for public school construction or expansion in the region in question.

The MCPS briefing presentation shows that Potomac Elementary School's capacity is 411 students, and that its population has sharply decreased in recent years.

MCPS figures for Potomac enrollment, follow: Year 2000, 648 students; 2001, 639; 2002, 640; 2003, 594; 2004, 577; 2005, 527; and 2006, 500.

That's a steady decline trending down to Potomac's capacity of 411. The official MCPS projected figures for Potomac Elementary, which are open to question, show an increase after dipping below 500 students: 2007, 497; 2008, 514; 2009, 521; 2010, 529.

Meanwhile, MCPS figures for Seven Locks enrollment, in a school with a capacity of 274 students, are: 2000, 279; 2001, 261; 2002, 257; 2003, 253; 2004, 256; 2005, 251; 2006, 247.

Projected figures show no threat to the school's small capacity: 2007, 244; 2008, 247; 2009, 243; 2010, 249.

So where's the need for the $17 million Kendale school?

If PES will be over-capacity by 118 students in 2010, and SLES will be under by 25, then there is need to build new facilities for only 93 students.

Divide $17 million by 93 students, and we find that MCPS is proposing to spend $182,795 per student on new construction.