York Suburban's surprising decline in kindergarten enrollment has helped spur the school board to request a full review of class utilization, an action that could lead to major facility decisions.

The board made the request at Monday's meeting, with an initial followup by the administration expected at the Monday, March 4 meeting, said Superintendent Kate Orban.

Board member Joel Sears said a study by the Pennsylvania Economy League on York Suburban revealed enrollment could decline by as much as hundreds of students in the next few years. The league is a nonprofit economic advocacy organization.

Kindergarten surprise: But most surprising is York Suburban's kindergarten enrollment - down 45 students this year to its lowest point in recent memory.

No one is sure why.

"It doesn't correlate with the birth rates," Orban said.

The district is checking with private and charter schools to see if that's where the children went who otherwise would have attended Suburban.

Kindergarten enrollment rates are particularly important because that's when most students enter a school district.

The board has approved going out to bid to get a facilities feasibility study "to see what shape they are in," Orban said.

That process of completing the study should take a couple months.

By that point, next year's kindergarten enrollment will become clearer so the district can see if they are in a declining trend or if this year's kindergarten numbers were merely a blip.

School closure not the goal: The administration will also be examining class use.

Sears emphasized the point of that study isn't to find a way to close a school, as some might fear.

"That's not what's going on," Sears said.

But something must be done to save money, he said, if the district wants to avoid cutting programs.

Board member H. Roger Mill agreed, saying "unfortunately, people are under the impression we are dead set on closing a school." He just wants to make sure the district has all the information it needs to make informed decisions, Miller said.

Sears and Miller said closing a building or other facility changes could end up being a viable option, but maybe not. Either way, the district should examine class use.

"We have a responsibility to look at that stuff," Sears said.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com