Schools plan ahead for wave of children

With a surge of students expected within the next five years for one local school district after a boom of births in recent years, school officials are eyeing changes to enrollment policies to make room for an expanding population.

A disproportionate increase in births in Foster City and other areas — such as around Albion H. Horrall Elementary School in San Mateo — means the San Mateo-Foster City School District may have to shift classrooms, magnet programs or other offerings around to match demand.

At Monday night’s board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Joan Rosas proposed forming a committee of teachers, parents and district staff in the fall to look at enrollment policies and practices in the face of an influx of students.

According to figures provided by Enrollment Projection Consultants in San Mateo, the births that translate into students five years later — at a rate of approximately 67 percent — have been steadily increasing lately.

“This is not crisis planning, it’s looking to the future, because if we really are going to have this increase, we need to be ready for that,” Rosas said.

According to a recent Enrollment Projection Consultants study, the number of births within areas that feed into the district has been rising for the last few years, with a high of 1,822 in 2002. Approximately 67 percent of those births traditionally turn into students five years later.

The district did not provide numbers substantiating the disproportionate increase in births from neighborhood to neighborhood.

In 2004, births were up to 1,961. As a result, the district could be getting as many as 200 additional students in the next few years, Tom Williams of Enrollment Projection Consultants said.

Horrall Principal Susan Totaro said the school is prepared to welcome any new students. Since enrollments dropped following the “dot-bomb” and families moved out of the area, many schools like Horrall have room to grow. “We’re already expecting to have extra students next year, and we’re always glad to accept more students into our school,” Totaro said.

Student enrollment is hovering just below the 10,000 mark for the 20-school district. The highest numbers the district ever had came in 1970, when student enrollment reached its all-time peak of 12,886.

Parents interested in joining the committee should contact the principal of their neighborhood school for more information.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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