The enrollment for 2012-13 school year had been the lowest enrollment in more than 10 years. We do all remember the feasibility report that was often referenced to justify the aggressive building projects. That report speculated more than 500 new students by this time, and the aggressive building sunk our District into massive debt.
At the September 9th Work Session Meeting, Dr Newcome reported there are currently 2,502 students enrolled compared to 2,505 students as of November 1 last year. While basically flat from last year, this is 148 students less than the 2004-05 school year.
Let us put that number in perspective. In the 2012-13 school year, the District averaged 193 students per grade. The speculation back in 2003 was the District would have enrollment of over 3,150 students by today, or about 243 students per grade.
Adding insult to injury, the most current enrollment projections from the Pennsylvania Department of Education expect Octorara’s enrollment to drop to 2,459 by the 2020-21 school year. It will be 691 students less than speculated; almost like having cut three full grades out of the District’s 2003 speculations.
The aggressive building and campus concept was done without the tax-base to support it. Fact is, the District was never on track to hit the enrollment numbers from the 2003 feasibility report. The District even created the Octorara Regional Planning Commission in 2006, and it failed to manifest the projection speculations for them.
It is time the District admits the large campus concept, with 3 elementary schools, was irresponsible and wrong. It is time to consider a consolidation plan to save tax payers money, redirect funds into the classroom, and pay off the debt.