Student growth is not imminent

Posted: Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Frank Rue's letter to the editor perpetuates the misconception that population growth at Juneau-Douglas High School is imminent. Left unsaid is how we can afford to run a new school without the revenues generated by additional students.

The high school student population (this includes 150-200 students not housed at JDHS) is projected to change from 1,757 in 2002 to 1,761 in 2005, according to Dave Reaume's mid-range estimate. Reaume is the district's consultant.

The Alaska Department of Labor estimates that between 1998 and 2018 our population of kids aged 5-17 will increase by only 265.

While the district projected a 3.5 percent annual growth rate, according to state records they actually reported a 4 percent reduction in student population for the period of 1998/99 (1,783) to 2002/03 (1,711).

Modular classrooms and temporary structures will not be necessary. We can start housing students in the seven vacant classrooms that will result from the layoff of high school teachers next year.

The ballot initiative simply holds the district to its own projections.

The district's numbers show the JDHS population at the most crowded period of the day (third) to be 1,024, with another 497 at Marie Drake. The total number of students in both buildings is about 1,550.

I've posted the state and school district's documents at Read them and decide for yourself.

Building capacity for students is computed based on the square feet of the building. The district does not report the actual amount used, artificially reducing the reported capacity of JDHS.

We can't stop planning for the future, but we need to assure quality education for our kids now and for the future.

Duplicating programs and expenses while we lay off staff and stagnate the curriculum isn't the answer.

Dave Palmer


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