Growth in Westerville City Schools' student population is exceeding professional projections drafted for the district in 2008.

Growth in Westerville City Schools' student population is exceeding professional projections drafted for the district in 2008.

Total enrollment for the district is 14,833 students, roughly 500 more than the 14,336-student projection, said Jeff LeRose, district facilities and operations services executive director.

LeRose gave a presentation on enrollment numbers to the board during its Nov. 16 work session.

At the elementary school level, enrollment is at 6,851 versus the projected 6,585, and middle school enrollment is 3,394, compared to the projected 3,180, LeRose said.

The discrepancy is the smallest at the high schools, where there are 4,588 students, 14 more than the projected 4,571 students.

LeRose said district projections showed relatively flat growth over a 10-year forecast, but the student population is up 199 students from last year, a 1.36-percent increase.

District officials have talked to Cropper GIS, the company responsible for the enrollment forecast, LeRose said.

Though Cropper GIS attached a 2.5-percent margin of error to its report, the company said the numbers that influence enrollment projections for the district have not changed in a way that would alter the forecast.

"They have indicated that there's nothing from the census information, migration pattern, birth rates, mortality rates, that indicate anything would have changed for their numbers," LeRose said.

The district's population is 3.47 percent outside of the range Cropper GIS forecast for the 2010-2011 school year, he said.

One thing that could account for the discrepancy, LeRose said, is a decrease in the number of students attending charter schools and private schools in Westerville.

"What appears is another migration pattern where it appears we're getting students from private schools back to our public schools," he said.

That could be due to the economy, LeRose said, and also due to more parents having confidence in the Westerville school district, which has earned high marks on the state report card over the last several years, including the state's highest rating, "Excellent with Distinction," for the 2009-2010 school year.

The enrollment numbers leave little room for additional growth in terms of district building capacity, according to a press release from the district.

Numbers at the elementary level show the district can accommodate an additional 442 elementary students, but the all-day, every day kindergarten mandate from the state would fill those slots quickly, the press release said.

There is no room for growth at the middle school level, where the building capacity of 3,350 already is exceeded by 44 students.

The district's three high schools are under their 5,112 capacity by 524 students.

Individual buildings that are over capacity, according to district figures include: Central College Magnet School, Emerson Magnet School, Fouse, Longfellow and Mark Twain elementary schools, and Walnut Springs and Genoa middle schools, LeRose said.

He said the administration plans to provide the board with more details on the enrollment numbers at its annual retreat next month.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com

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