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Jim Thorpe board deals with growing district

Published March 30. 2010 05:00PM

Joe Brown, Jim Thorpe Area School District's director of Information Services, gave a presentation to the district's board of education during its normal monthly meeting on Monday evening, aimed at shedding light on the district's enrollment trends.

Since August 2003, the number of students in the district has increased from 1,887 to 2,557, an increase of 36.16 percent.

Brown showed the board a number of slides indicating that enrollment in all of the district's buildings has increased over the period.

Enrollment tends to follow a stair-step growth pattern, with student numbers falling briefly at the end of the school year before rising over the summer, and then remaining relatively stable through the school term.

While growth last summer was relatively modest, the district has experienced periods of high growth in the summers of 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Since 2003, enrollment in the high school has risen 7.21 percent; Penn-Kidder grew 25.21 percent; L.B. Morris grew 30.97 percent; and students in the outplacement program grew 76.47 percent.

Because the district has seen growth in excess of 10 percent, it is eligible for $10 million in low-interest grant money for capital projects through the Qualified School Construction Bond program.

While the board is discussing a new building project, no decision has been made on it yet. The bond program requires that application be made by April 1, so a motion came before the board at Monday evening's meeting to make application and then refuse to borrow the money if the board didn't move forward with a building project. The board voted against making application for the funds.

Currently, the district is experiencing the small dip in enrollment that Brown says would be characteristic of the end of the year cycle. But he says there is no way to be sure what will happen in the months ahead.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has made it's own estimates of future enrollment for districts across the state. PDE expects Jim Thorpe's student population to grow to 2,673 by 2014 and 3053 by 2019.

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