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      Providence schools face unexpected population growth

      The Providence school system is facing a population explosion, just a year after closing two middle schools.

      Superintendent Susan Lusi said Tuesday that the system is facing an unexpected boom because projections in late 2010 showed fewer students for the next 10 years.

      "Enrollment projections from November of 2010 showed a steady decline in population all the way from school year 2010-11 at least through 2014-15, and then still not going up to the number that they were at for the '10-'11 school year all the way through 2021," Lusi said.

      Yet, she said, "This year we have 1,132 more students than this projection shows.

      Just the middle schools will have 725 more students this year and next than anticipated.

      Lusi said it will require swift planning to prepare for this group before the next school year.

      "We do have some excess capacity at the high school level. So, what we do need to look at very quickly is all of the space we have in all of our buildings," Lusi said.

      She does not criticize her predecessors.

      "They can only use the best information they have at the time," she said.

      Lusi theorizes the new students may have come about because of the economic situations of families.

      "There can be fluctuations of who goes to private school and who does not," she said.

      Lusi said some people may have come back to Providence when rents went up in neighboring communities.

      Whatever the reason, there will need to be more classrooms and more teachers in Providence next year.