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The coming year will be a watershed for Provo elementary schools. The district is anticipating the largest group ever of pupils in grades one through six.

But in 1991-92, the number of children entering kindergarten is expected to slightly decrease and enrollment will level off, school officials say.While elementary schools may be able to forecast manageable days ahead, secondary schools are preparing for the coming bulge of students. Accommodating them will be an uphill battle.

"Almost all of our increases from this point on will happen in grades seven through 12," said Provo Superintendent Jim Bergera.

That prediction is based on current numbers, which could be radically skewed by new business, industrial and recreational development in Provo, Bergera said.

Other districts are experiencing similar growth patterns.

"Our enrollment would say that the bulge has begun to move into the secondary level and is ready to move into the high school level," said Alpine Superintendent Steven C. Baugh.

Kindergarten enrollment in the Alpine District is also expected to begin decreasing, causing a corresponding reduction in other grade levels as those children move through the system.

Dean Rowley, director of elementary education for the Nebo district, said elementary enrollment continues to increase but not as rapidly as in previous years.

"I don't think we will see too much difference than we have in the past," Rowley said. "There are going to be more students (at the secondary level) but we will be able to handle it."

The Provo District will have the largest group of seventh- and eighth-graders in 1992-94.

"Ninth and twelfth grades just keep going," Bergera said. By 1996-97, the numbers of students in these grades will swell to 4,300 to 4,400, which means each high school will have a population of about 2,000 students. This year both high schools combined had a total of approximately 3,200 students.

The problem facing the Alpine and Provo districts is where to put all those students.

"We cannot afford new high schools," Bergera said. "It is going to be difficult but the principals are aware of the growth and are analyzing ways to handle that."

Classroom expansions have been completed or are being finished at Farrer and Dixon Middle schools and at Provo High School. Timpview will also add classrooms, Bergera said.

Alpine District will use portable units, year-round schedules and other scheduling changes to accommodate the growth in junior high school students. At the high school level the district will focus on increasing vocational counseling and encouraging concurrent enrollment at Utah Valley Community College.

The Provo District will pay off debt assumed to build Westridge and Canyon Crest elementary schools and Timpview High School in the year 2000. At that point, the board of education may consider building a new building, Bergera said.

The district owns property for a middle school in the Rock Canyon neighborhood.