Enrollment at Riverhead public schools increased almost 5 percent over the summer and nearly 10 percent since the end of the 2008-2009 school year, according to data provided to RiverheadLOCAL by School Superintendent Nancy Carney Wednesday morning.

“We’re at the breaking point,” Carney said at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting in response to a paren’t inquiry about class size increases at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School.

The population of some of the district’s schools is at or near capacity, and any additional enrollment increases could result in a classroom shift from one elementary school to another, Carney said.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Carney said of the possibility of shifting students out of their home elementary school to another building, “but it’s what we’re facing.

Riley Avenue Elementary School, with 649 students, is at capacity and Phillips Avenue School, with 592 students, is at capacity for most grades, Carney said after the meeting.

Enrollment increased by 240 pupils between June and September, according to a school district document. Carney said half of that increase occurred at Phillips Avenue.

Much of the spike was also very last-minute, the superintendent said, which forced changes to bus assignments and routes, worsening the usual transportation difficulties that occur at the beginning of the new year. Parents last week were up in arms over how late some elementary students were arriving home from school. The situation is better but still being worked on, Carney said last night.

Carney said she is hopeful enrollment has stabilized and there won’t be any significant additional increases.

“Typically we can lose a few as well,” the superintendent said. “It fluctuates.”

But Sarah Bowe, who has two children at Roanoke, said even the addition of two more children in kindergarten or first grade there would push classroom size above contractual limits.

During budget talks in the spring, Roanoke parents were assured the Roanoke Avenue school, an old building with physically smaller classrooms than the other elementary schools, would not be affected by the larger class sizes then contemplated as a cost-saving measure, Bowe said.

As it turned out, because of kindergarten enrollment increases, Roanoke had to add another kindergarten classroom — which was done by reducing the number of first grade classrooms from four to three. The children that would have occupied the fourth classroom were added to the remaining three, bringing those class sizes up to 26 and 27 pupils, which is right at the limit.

“They’re jammed in there like sardines,” said board member Amelia Lantz, who questioned whether there were fire code issues, as well.

Carney said all schools are in compliance with fire code requirements.

Still, Lantz said, “it almost becomes crowd control.”

The superintendent said each K-1 classroom has a teaching assistant assigned to it, and the board last night hired additional lunchroom monitors so teaching assistants could remain in their classrooms and not be pulled out for lunchroom duty, as had been the case in the past.

“I can assure you it’s not crowd control. I can assure you there is good instruction going on in those classrooms,” Carney said.

Board member Jeff Falisi said the situation underscores the overall problem faced by the district.

“We are overpopulated,” Falisi said. “We are beyond our population for our buildings. That is why this bond is so important to our students, to get the classrooms, and these wings that we need to fit the students into these schools,” Falisi said.

The Board of Education in July approved a $78.3 million facilities improvement plan, developed over the past year by a 55-person committee working with BBS Architects and Engineers of Patchogue. The plan would rearrange existing space, add classrooms, replace roofs and upgrade other facilities, such as science labs.

A vote on the bond to fund the improvements is scheduled for Oct. 11.

A second proposal also up for a vote Oct. 11 is funding of up to $7 million for a second gymnasium at the high school (contingent upon the passage of the main bond proposal.)

District voters resoundingly defeated a $123 million building bond referendum in February 2010. The new plan is scaled back to address “needs rather than wants,” Carney said in May.

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