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Converted Classrooms to Ease Crowding

February 21, 1995|HOLLY J. WAGNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District won't install temporary classrooms at five crowded elementary schools in the Newport Harbor attendance zone, opting instead to convert science labs and media centers into classrooms for a year.

The board of trustees, acting last week, also plans to send letters to school officials thanking them for finding inexpensive solutions to the crowding problem amid the financial instability caused by the district's investment in the failed Orange County bond pool.

District planners say there will be 200 to 300 more elementary schoolchildren and about 300 more middle and high school students each year over the next five years.

But the situation is most urgent in the Newport Harbor zone, where some schools have enrollment as high as 113% of capacity, said Dale Wooley, director of planning and program development.

By the 1996-97 school year, district officials hope to have long-term solutions to districtwide crowding in lower grades. Those solutions may include changing school attendance boundaries, reopening closed schools or reassigning some sixth grades to middle schools that have space.

Part of the growth is attributed to Irvine Co. developments planned for eastern Newport Beach and county-controlled land between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

Department heads have been instructed to study the options and consider the effects on education, ethnic balance, ideal school size, student safety, transportation costs and reopening costs.

The board has scheduled a session March 21 at 7 p.m. to review new information.

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