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Study suggests South Fayette High School to reach capacity in 2016

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

South Fayette High School is already squeezed for space and may have to be expanded, about 12 years after it was built.

The number of students at the high school is projected to go from 757 students this year to an estimated 1,077 in 2020, then level off after that, according to the results of a demographic study. South Fayette School District administrators commissioned the study to determine a course of action.

“It's important for us to understand how the district will continue to grow and configure,” Superintendent Bille Rondinelli said.

Carnegie Mellon University demographer Shelby Stewman looked at birth rates, alternate education rates and housing trends for the study.

“They're moving through elementary and middle school, and so we have to have appropriate space for them to get to high school,” Rondinelli said.

The high school already needs more science spaces.

“We need lab space right now,” Rondinelli said. “We're looking at those types of areas that are a concern at the moment.”

She said enrollment increases has not led to overly-inflated class sizes.

“Some classes are a little larger than others, but we've been very appropriate with class size,” she said.

After high school enrollment is expected to reach current capacity in 2016, enrollment is projected to continue to rise.

Kindergarten through second grade peaked last year with 700 students in three grades. Third through fifth-graders are expected to peak in 2016 with 768; sixth- through eighth-graders in 2019 with 821.

For every 100 children born in the township, 120 are enrolling in kindergarten five years later, the study found. The number of students in the district enrolled in cyber or charter schools – have seen relatively low increases. In 2003, there were four South Fayette students enrolled in alternate schools. In 2013, there were 25.

“These are small numbers for the size of the school district,” Stewman said.

The number of students enrolled in private and parochial schools has decreased, from 178 in the 2004-2005 school year to 109 in the current school year.

The last factor the study considered is new housing develops in the township. Development was at its peak in 2000-04, he said, and is peaking again right now at nearly 100 new units per year.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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