District Confronts Declining Enrollment

If demographic projections come to pass, the Keystone Oaks School District (based in the South Hills and comprising the communities of Castle Shannon, Dormont, and Greentree) will lose 17% of its current enrollment (2,231) in ten years. Those projections are a bit sunnier than the Department of Education’s numbers (a 20% loss in 10 years) but not by much. Since its early 1970s high point of an enrollment of 5,459 in nine school buildings, a fall to 1,881 by 2018 would represent a 65% loss over the last thirty years.

In comparison to other districts that loss is likely worse than some, better than others.

Now armed with the numbers, the school district will have to address what to do with its five current buildings (three elementary schools, one in each community, a middle school and a high school) almost as if it were the Base Realignment Commission. The consultants and architects for the district present no less than 17 recommendations for what to do with the buildings and how to distribute the student population. Everything from school closings (the district has reduced the number of buildings from 9 to 5 over the last three decades) to classroom additions and more specialization (K-4 or K-5) are on the table. The board now has to set a timeline on what they want to do (the board president noted that "The board wants to take our time on this") all the time realizing that 80% of the district’s residents do not have children in the school system.