Central Bucks population falling
Drop of 200 to 300 students a year expected in schools
Dana M. Eckman
The Central Bucks School Board has to deal with change, based on new charts and tables showing the district's population changes in recent years by grade level and by school.
Enrollment has dropped for the fourth consecutive year, Superintendent David Weitzel reported.
The total student population of the district is 19,566 as of Oct. 1.
That's 290 fewer students or approximately a 1.5 percent decline from last year. Central Bucks had 348 fewer students (1.7 percent) in 2011 than it did in 2010.
"As you can see, the trend continues for us to have smaller overall numbers especially in grades K-5," Weitzel said.
Weitzel said he expects Central Bucks to continue to lose 200 to 300 students per year for the next few years. In the past, the Pennsylvania Economy League has predicted that Central Bucks’ enrollment could drop to 18,000 students by 2018.
The plateau is a welcome rest for the school board, which struggled in recent years to keep up with unprecedented population growth in the school district.
Central Bucks built seven of its 23 schools between 1995 and 2005, when enrollment increased by about 50 percent. The growth in enrollment started to slow in 2006, when the Central Bucks student population increased by 47 students. The population increased by only two students the following year.
Central Bucks’ enrollment reached its highest point in 2009 with 20,456 students. The largest classes that year were eighth grade (the class that will graduate in 2014) and 11th grade (the class that graduated in 2011).
And then enrollment began its slow decline. The district lost only 16 students in 2010 and 348 in 2011.
The largest class this year is 12th grade with 1,755 students. Weitzel said that the next largest class is 10th grade (the class that will graduate in 2016) with 1,665 students.
The elementary classes are now much smaller. A total of 980 students are enrolled in kindergarten and 1,294 students are enrolled in first grade. The increase of approximately 30 percent from kindergarten to first grade is attributed to many parents choosing to enroll their pre-first grader in private kindergarten classes at day-care facilities before moving them to first grade in Central Bucks.
Weitzel also reviewed the district's summer accomplishments.
Approximately 2,175 students participated in Central Bucks School District summer education programs and 140 students attended Middle Bucks Institute of Technology Summer School.
The Operations Department worked on renovations at CB East, Holicong, Unami and Pine Run.
The Student Services Department finalized the anti-bullying/cyberbullying program, developed two high school electives for students with special needs and developed a comprehensive system for assessing writing skills K-6. Also, Weitzel said this is the first year the district ran the entire Extended School Year Program. More than 200 students attended classes at CB West and Mill Creek Elementary School.
Also, the Travis Manion Foundation and board members recognized student supporters and organizers of the Sept. 15 Heroes Run in Doylestown.
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