The city’s years of diminishing school enrollment are a leading factor in why the board is talking consolidation. A projection presented to the board at its meeting Tuesday shows enrollment getting close to the highest the city ever saw in 2006.
The Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia anticipates enrollment in Poquoson schools will increase to 2,571 by 2027, up from the current enrollment of 2,139. The functional capacity of the schools this school year is 2,694, leaving a gap of 555 students. At the schools’ peak enrollment in 2006, there were 2,602 students, and since then, enrollment has generally declined.
The board members agreed that if the enrollment projections held true, they did not want the city to realize it made a mistake 10 years from now and have to consider reopening or building a new school.
The other figures that surprised the board and Superintendent Jennifer Parish were the projected costs of the five consolidation scenarios. Estimates that the board considered conservative projected the five consolidation scenarios would cost a minimum of $22.3 million and at most $28.5 million.
Jennifer Mosteller, another board member, said spending this much money on schools wouldn’t leave the city much room to do other capital projects. She also said that it may be easier to address issues at one school than undertake a scenario requiring work in multiple places.
Over the summer, the School Board and City Council toured Poquoson Middle School, which has some of its original structure from the 1930s. Board member Wayne Holcomb said he walked out of that tour thinking the school should be closed. Looking at the numbers Tuesday, he said he was not sure anymore.
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