The Alexandria school system, which has grown increasingly crowded with the addition of several new educational programs and a recent increase in enrollment, will run out of room for its students before the year 2000, according to a study delivered to the School Board last night.
The facilities study, prepared by a consultant, concluded that even if grade levels were shifted and school attendance zones redrawn, some new construction would be required in future tight budget years to accommodate students in the next decade.
Superintendent Paul W. Masem told the board that "the further we got into the study, it became increasingly clear that it would not be enough to realign the grades."
The report predicted that student enrollment would increase from the current 9,355 students to 10,649 by the year 2000.
It also noted that the crowding predicament was exacerbated by the fact that Alexandria continues to dedicate more space to such programs as special education, English as a second language and social counseling. Of the system's 384 classrooms, just 236 are being used for regular instruction, the report said.
Paul Abramson, the consultant, offered seven possible and diverse solutions to the crowding. One of the more dramatic realignments would transform Francis C. Hammond Junior High into a second city high school and John Adams Elementary into the system's third middle school.
Masem noted that the cost of the various plans ranged from several thousand dollars to millions.
Abramson said it would cost $15 million to $20 million for the option of expanding T.C. Williams High School to include the ninth grade, which is housed in the city's two junior high schools.
He added that though such a shift would have the desirable effect of creating a four-year high school, "the site, with another building, begins to become extremely tight."
Masem said the least expensive of the possibilities would leave existing grade divisions intact, but require added space for programs at elementary schools.
The study raised more questions about the board's efforts to redistrict the school system by the 1991-92 school year. Board members have said it is time for Alexandria to fall in line with other schools in the state by creating a four-year high school and middle schools housing grades five through eight.
The report recommends that John Adams, which it found unsuitable for elementary school age children, be returned to its former use as a middle school.
The study noted that Alexandria's elementary schools will be 450 students over their ideal capacity within five years. T.C. Williams, the system's only high school, is already 150 students over its ideal population, the study concluded.