Local: Education

Enrollment booming in Montgomery County schools

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Local,Maryland,Education,Rachel Baye

Montgomery County Public Schools officials

expect enrollment to grow by 10,654 students in the next five years.

The growth, scheduled to be the topic of a County Council discussion on Monday, is a 7 percent increase from the school system's current enrollment of 148,779.

Next school year alone, the schools anticipate more than 2,500 new students in what will be the sixth straight year of increased enrollment, said Bruce Crispell, MCPS's director of long-range planning. "The last several years, it's been 2,000, 2,500 a year. We've been growing pretty fast."

Enrollment changes
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Kindergarten through fifth grade 1,550 1,868 2,216 1,976 2,001
Sixth through eighth grades -21 11 -135 415 253
Ninth through 12th grades -89 334 156 -75 -97
Source: Montgomery County Public Schools

The population boom has prompted nearly annual boundary changes and caused millions of dollars

to be spent building schools and expanding existing ones. Recent projects include a elementary school opening in Clarksburg in fall 2014, Crispell said, and additions opening at elementary, middle and high schools in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase school cluster over the following three years.

The school system currently has 385 trailers at schools that don't have sufficient classroom space, MCPS data show.

Next year's enrollment increase is also behind a planned $21.2 million increase in the fiscal 2014 budget, said MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig. That money includes $8.7 million to hire elementary and secondary teachers and $2.5 million for services like transportation and food for the new students.

"Enrollment growth is the biggest challenge that we face right now," Tofig said.

The increase in enrollment has been fueled by an influx of minority populations -- mostly Hispanics, followed by blacks and Asians, Crispell said. White students, once making up more than 90 percent of the student population, now account for 33 percent, followed by Hispanic students, who make up 27 percent.

With these changes, the school system's population of non-native English speakers has grown steadily over the last decade, hitting 13 percent of student enrollment in 2011, according to a County Council document.

None of these trends are expected to stop "for the foreseeable future," Crispell said.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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