Since 1990, the T/E School District has experienced an increase in student enrollment every year. More recently, over the past 20 years, student enrollment has increased by 37.5% to approximately 7,184 students for the 2019-2020 school year. While the District successfully accommodates its students each year, the increasing enrollment has resulted in the need for additional staff at all levels and facility reconfigurations and expansions to meet the needs of the growing student population.
The District uses enrollment projections provided by a demographer to help ensure the necessary staffing and facilities are available each year. According to a 2018 Demographic Study, enrollment is projected to continue to grow steadily at all levels over the next ten years. In the year 2023, projections indicate a total enrollment of 7,686, which is an increase of approximately 503 students over a period of five years.
Several strategies have been put in place to address the growing student population and the impact on District facilities. Since the 1990s, every T/E school has undergone an expansion project to increase instructional space. Each school’s footprint has been maximized and spaces within the school not normally used for instruction have been converted into classroom space.
In 2016, it became apparent that increases in student enrollment were not evenly distributed among T/E’s elementary schools. As a result, the Board approved redistricting of school attendance areas at Beaumont, Devon and Hillside Elementary Schools to balance the student enrollment at each school. Should elementary enrollment continue to rise, the Board may have to consider building a new elementary school.
Projected enrollment increases at Conestoga High School will eventually result in a shortage of instructional space to deliver the educational program. During the 2018-2019 school year, the District conducted a Conestoga High School facility study to examine the District’s instructional needs, space utilization and possible options for expansion of the current building. As a result, the District determined there was a need to expand Conestoga High School and add additional space to include at a minimum:
- 8 regular classrooms,
- 2 special education classrooms,
- 4 science labs,
- 1 art room,
- 1 kitchen,
- a fabrication lab,
- a large flexible learning space, and
- smaller spaces for meetings, offices and small group instruction.
The school is also in need of expanded spaces in the nurse suite, library, cafeteria, student services suite, and health and fitness room.
STAFFING AND BUDGET IMPACT
Despite efforts to create efficiencies in staffing, growing enrollment has necessitated an increase in staffing at all levels. Over the last four years, approximately 25.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions have been added due to increased enrollment. This year alone, approximately 8.3 new FTE teachers were added to the budget to accommodate increasing numbers of students.
The District welcomes each new student and embraces its diverse and growing population. The rising enrollment does result in increased expenses for facilities projects and additional professional and non-instructional staff. Pennsylvania law limits the amount each school district can increase taxes without a referendum. No exceptions are permitted for increases tied specifically to enrollment growth. Facilities and staffing needs created by increasing enrollment must be accommodated within the limits of the District’s annual taxing authority.