The total enrollment between Salk Middle School and MacArthur High School has risen by a total of 34.8 percent since 1998, according to the enrollment trends chart provided by Levittown Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Personnel Darlene Rhatigan.
Salk and MacArthur combined had 1,858 students enrolled in 1998, and nine years later that number has jumped to 2,506. This represents a collective increase of 648. Salk has risen from 847 to 1,096 students enrolled over that time, with MacArthur seeing a 400-pupil increase of 1,011 to 1,410 students enrolled.
Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois emphasized that this kind of enrollment increase was anticipated and prepared for. This surge has to do with the baby boom era, where adults from two different generations ended up having children around the same time, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Looking at enrollment trends is something that is done on an annual basis by the district. "It's a process we go through each October as we evaluate enrollment and look towards the future," Dr. Sirois said.
So, with nearly 700 extra bodies around the campus of the two schools, how are they all fitting?
"Things are pretty tight over at MacArthur right now," Dr. Sirois confirmed.
But, MacArthur Principal John Bifolco says the key to keeping a safe environment for the kids has been the creativity of utilizing all the space MacArthur has to offer. "With vocational classes being phased out at MacArthur and put over at Memorial, we have been able to convert the vocational classrooms into two general purpose classrooms." That also goes for the old wrestling room on the first floor, which was made expendable to be made into two classrooms when the new gym was added on in 2002.
"We had a bond in 2001 for new classrooms at MacArthur in anticipation of the enrollment increase," according to Rhatigan. A new wing was added on with seven classrooms for art and science at that time, in addition to the conversions.
Bifolco emphasized that there have been no problems or accidents reported in regard to any overcrowded issues. Students have been taught to use the two side stairwells to avoid any congestion in the middle. He did say that the lunchrooms have been a little tight, but once again there have not been any mishaps reported.
As for safety in between the two buildings, in 2002 more parking was added adjacent to the MacArthur track, and currently parking is available on the old tennis courts next to the Wantagh Firehouse due to the addition of the new tennis courts on the north side of Wantagh Avenue.
More students also means more teachers hired recently. Levittown always sticks to a ratio of one teacher for every 25 students, which called for an increase of 26 teachers between Salk and MacArthur over the past nine years.
Despite all this, MacArthur is still working to near capacity now, according to Dr. Sirois. But, enrollment is not expected to increase over the next three to four years, and a decrease is expected by around 2011.
As for Division Avenue High School, they have experienced a more moderate 21.4 percent increase over this same period, with numbers rising from 1,024 to 1,244. However according to Dr. Sirois, Division has always had extra, which caused little reason for concern.
The greatest concern now though for the Levittown district as a whole centers around the process of adding classrooms at the kindergarten level, with impending state regulations calling for all-day kindergarten.