PORTLAND — The school department may hire four more teachers to address continued enrollment growth, the superintendent said Tuesday.

If the School Committee approves, it will be the second round of new hires this summer in a district that eliminated 45 jobs last spring.

First-day enrollment in Maine’s largest school district was about 200 students higher than last September, when about 6,990 students showed up for school, Superintendent Jim Morse said.

The increase to about 7,200 students contradicts projections by the New England School Development Council, which forecasted a decline to 6,844 students this year.

Morse attributed the increase to a combination of factors, including growth in Portland’s immigrant community and a tough economy drawing students from local private schools.

He also believes recent changes in the school district might have inspired some parents to choose public over private schools.

“Enrollment has really blossomed,” Morse said. “I think some parents who may have chosen private schools in the past are giving Portland schools a second look.”

Morse said evidence of that trend is anecdotal at this point, but he plans to provide detailed enrollment information to the School Committee before the state tallies annual student counts on Oct. 1.

Morse, who became superintendent a year ago, has initiated a variety of changes in the district, including an administrative reorganization and a curriculum overhaul.

To address enrollment growth, Morse plans to seek committee approval to hire an additional third-grade teacher for Clifford Elementary School, where the two third-grade classes have 28 and 29 students.

He also wants to hire two or three additional teachers to address various enrollment increases at East End Community School.

Last spring, the committee passed an $89.9 million budget for 2010-11 that eliminated 45 staff positions and anticipated an enrollment increase of about 90 students, to 7,079.

Morse said he plans to propose three or four new hires at the Sept. 15 committee meeting. The cost of the new positions would be covered by Portland’s $2.6 million share of the federal jobs bill recently approved by Congress.

In August, the committee endorsed Morse’s plan to hire an additional fifth-grade teacher at Riverton Community School, an additional fourth-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School and two additional teachers at Portland High School.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]