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Indian River trying to find space for incoming students

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PHILADELPHIA — By next December, Indian River Central School’s already large enrollment might need to make room for 300 more students.

By December 2013, “Site Four” on Fort Drum, composed of 161 four- and five-bedroom apartments, will be filled with families, leaving the district scrambling to find pre-emptive ways to accommodate each student.

The post’s housing complex will be in Calcium Primary’s attendance zone.

At Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, Business Manager James R. Koch left the board with three options: adjust the attendance zones so primary pupils are evenly spread throughout the district, renovate the existing buildings or build a new one.

“I’m going to see the light at the end of the tunnel in 2013,” he said after addressing the unknown factors, such as total enrollment and military population on post.

Some of the unknowns include suspended projects such as Jefferson Apartments and 71 acres bought by the DeMarco Group next to the Pleasant Creek Apartments that could have a potential 350 units if the group decides to build on the land.

Additionally, Eagle Ridge’s proposed phase five could bring 91 more units into the district, 39 of which are four-bedroom apartments.

The district’s enrollment fluctuates daily. Enrollment is down to 4,258 from last year’s 4,318 students, but that number can change by the end of the year.

“I have no idea what enrollment will be,” Mr. Koch said. “I will know that by December 2013.”

He pointed out that because where families move is personal and often reflects what primary school they want their children to attend, current students would continue to attend their school. It would create short-term transportation problems but long-term family satisfaction.

The district is at 73 percent capacity. Theresa Primary, which has 271 of 300 seats filled, is at 90.3 percent capacity.

Adding to the current buildings could be nearly impossible for the district, however.

“Evans Mills is landlocked,” Mr. Koch said. “The walls are not designed to hold a second floor.”

Philadelphia Primary could forfeit its playground in order to add classrooms. Antwerp Primary was nearly built out to the street during the last renovation; there simply is no room.

To build an additional primary school, the district would have to find a location. In addition, about $1 million would have to be budgeted to hire a principal, various administrators, a nurse, counselors and all those who are not teachers who make the building tick.

The board did not discuss Mr. Koch’s presentation during the meeting.

“I’m suggesting nothing firm to be done until 2013,” he said.

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