More than 2,600 additional students could be coming to Clark-Pleasant schools by 2023, but the school buildings do not have enough room to fit them all.

Based on projections from this year, school officials must decide what to do when several schools are full by the 2023-24 school year. Within the next decade, the district will have to repair or add on to an existing school, build a new school or both. But to do that construction would mean spending $10 million to $25 million, which the school district cannot afford to pay back. The district currently has a $14.5 million annual debt payment, which will not decrease significantly until 2019.

During the next two months, school officials will discuss options with architects and engineers to see how school buildings can be rearranged, expanded or renovated to address the enrollment growth. By August, a redistricting committee will be created to examine where students could be moved.

The first immediate issue is Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School, which fifth- and sixth-graders attend. Too many students will be attending the intermediate school by the 2016-17 school year if the district does not change which grades attend which buildings.

Earlier this year, Superintendent Patrick Spray suggested changing the intermediate school into a kindergarten through fifth-grade school and moving sixth-grade students to Clark-Pleasant Middle School. The current middle school has room for another 520 students before it hits capacity.

Both the middle school and intermediate school were built with the possibility of adding a wing of classrooms, officials said. The school board could decide to add a wing to the intermediate building to alleviate the current space issues, but that would cost $2 million to $4 million, Spray said. But if the sixth-graders are moved to the middle school, the school district would not have to make any major changes to either the intermediate or middle school buildings.

The middle school has enough space for additional students, even in shared spaces such as art and music classes, the gymnasium and the cafeteria, Spray said. And the middle school will have even more empty space if the school district purchases one tablet, iPad or laptop for each secondary-aged student, which school officials are considering. If the school district does give a device to each student, then the middle school could swap out six computer labs for more classroom space, he said.

Moving younger students to the intermediate school could mean minor renovations, such as installing shorter water fountains for the younger students to reach or changing the layout of classrooms.

But by school year 2020-21, the school district will hit capacity in the elementary school buildings, even if Sawmill Woods Elementary School is kept open. Sawmill Woods, which was built in 1960, will need to have extensive renovations done if the school district wants to keep it open long term. The school needs a new roof, HVAC system and an emergency sprinkler system installed, totaling about $5 million, Spray said.

Sawmill Woods could serve as a kindergarten and first-grade school, as it is now, or could be changed into a preschool and day care center or a spot for an alternative school. But either way, it would have to be updated, Spray said.

The cost of a new elementary is about $25 million. The earliest the school district would consider building another elementary school would be seven years from now, but the project would need to be approved by residents in a referendum.

Regardless of how it proceeds with expansions, additions, closing schools or reconfiguring existing buildings, the school system will redistrict the area, Spray said. Once the redistricting committee sorts out the best course of action, he said, the board will have more clarity to help make the rest of the decisions.

By the numbers

The Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. has added nearly 400 students to since 2011. Another 2,600 students could be entering the district by 2024; 1,000 of those students would be at the elementary level. The school district will need to build, expand or repair buildings to make room for the influx. Here’s a look at the cost of that work:

$2 million to $4 million: Cost of adding a wing of four to six classrooms at Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School

$5 million: Cost of renovating Sawmill Woods Elementary School with a new roof and HVAC system and installing emergency sprinklers

$25 million: Cost to construct a new elementary school

At a glance

Here’s a look at enrollment issues for Clark-Pleasant schools:

Kindergarten-Grade 4 (currently housed in multiple schools)

Capacity: 3,075 (at 25 students per classroom)

Current enrollment: 2,509

Additional capacity: 566 students

School year buildings will hit capacity: 2020-21

Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School, Grades 5-6

Capacity: 1,008 (at 28 students per classroom)

Current enrollment: 995

Additional capacity: 13 students

School year building will hit capacity: 2016-17

Building upgrades possible: Add to the building or turn it into a kindergarten through fifth-grade building

Clark-Pleasant Middle School, Grades 7-8

Capacity: 1,690 (at 28 students per classroom)

Current enrollment: 985

Additional capacity: 705 students

School year building will hit capacity: Unknown (beyond 2023-24)

Building upgrades possible: Add to building or swap out computer labs for additional classroom space

Whiteland Community High School, Grades 9-12

Capacity: 2,713 (at 28 students per classroom)

Current enrollment: 1,786

Additional capacity: 927 students

School year building will hit capacity: Unknown (beyond 2023-24)

SOURCE: Clark-Pleasant facilities study conducted in January