Publicmeeting to discuss capital projects school bond

Published on Thu, Oct 4, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Public meeting to discuss capital projects school bond

By Jack Kintner

The Blaine school board has put efforts to publicize a capital projects bond issue on hold temporarily while it reviews the effects of a two-year decline in enrollment at a special public meeting set for 5 p.m., Thursday, October 4, at the district office on H Street.

The meeting will bring the board together with two citizens committees of about a dozen members each, one that’s been devoted to facilities planning and another designed to help publicize and support the bond issue.

School boards are prohibited by law from actively campaigning for a bond issue but may allow citizens committees set up for that purpose to use school facilities after regular hours.

The board reviewed two sets of figures at their September 24 meeting, one that gave the first set of specific enrollment figures for the current academic year and another set that compared them with projected enrollments based on material submitted by consultant John Fotheringham, who will also be at Thursday’s meeting.

“Blaine went through some pretty strong growth from 2002 through 2005,” said superintendent Ron Spanjer, “but in 2006 we dropped, and in 2007 we’re down 36 students from what we projected.”

The specific enrollment numbers provided by Spanjer began with the year 2002 when Blaine had 1,991 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2003, enrollment rose to 2,095, up 5 percent, and the following year gained another 7 percent to 2,235.

In 2005 the high water mark was reached when Blaine had 2,283 students, up 2 percent, but the next year they went down to 2,256, down 1.2 percent, and last year declined again to 2,227, down another 1.2 percent.

“When you factor in the average growth over the last decade or more, which is a steady 3.5 to 4 percent growth, a few years of decline can begin to make a difference,” Spanjer said, although noting that there are 27 more kindergartners than expected resulting in the district hiring more staff, and 19 more second graders.

Compared with last year, the first grade is down 10 student enrollments, third grade down 16, fourth grade down one, fifth grade up two, sixth grade down five, seventh grade down 12, eighth grade down 13, freshmen down 25, sophomores down seven, juniors up five and seniors even with last year’s population at 162.

Spanjer said contemplated projects include a new elementary school at Birch Bay, an upgrade and expansion of the high school as well as upgrades to both primary and elementary schools.