Not too long ago, the York Suburban School District spent about $23 million on a new school and the renovation of another.

Now it seems the district might not need that space after all.

The school board was surprised to learn last month its kindergarten enrollment has dropped to its lowest level in recent memory.

In fact, 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.

That prompted the school board to request a full review of class utilization, an action that could lead to major facility decisions -- including the possible closure of a school.

The crazy thing -- well, aside from spending millions on apparently unneeded buildings -- is that no one is sure why enrollment is dropping.

"It doesn't correlate with the birth rates," Superintendent Kate 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.

Closing a school isn't the goal of the study, according to school board member Joel Sears.

But what else is the district going to do if it has too much space and not enough students?

It would be a huge waste, but it's exactly what the district should do.


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The district regularly comes up short when it's time to budget. Last year it was a $1.5 million deficit, the year before it was $4 million and $3.5 million for 2010-11. Inevitably, either taxes are raised or programs are cut -- sometimes both.

Enough is enough.

Sears said the district has to explore all of its option if it hopes to avoid cutting more programs.

He and board member H. Roger Mill said closing a building or other facility changes could be viable options, but maybe not.

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

It sounds like this could be one very expensive lesson: Before going on a building spree, get a good head count.