Two years after a local elementary school was closed, Westbrook’s school facilities are at capacity, at least partially because of an unexpected influx of immigrants, Superintendent Marc Gousse said Monday.

If new enrollment projections are accurate, he said, the city may have to consider expanding one or two of its buildings – projects that he wouldn’t expect to qualify for state funding.

After years of declining enrollment, the district recently has had an upswing in its student population, with an increase of 100 students in the past five years, to 2,543. At a workshop with the City Council on Monday, school officials pointed out that the number of students in the district’s English Language Learners program doubled in two years, from 2011-12 – when the school board voted to close Prides Corner Elementary School – to last year, when there were 323 students in the program, the third biggest in the state behind Portland’s and Lewiston’s.

The school department hired consultant Planning Decisions to project the district’s enrollment for the next 10 years. The findings, presented to the City Council on Monday, showed continued growth with an increase of 550 students, or more than 20 percent, by 2023-2024.

School officials pushed for the closure of the 62-year-old Prides Corner school, which was in dire need of renovation, saying it would save money and allow for a reconfiguration of elementary grades that would benefit students.

Two elementary schools, including Prides Corner, served kindergarten through second grade, while two others were for third through fifth grades.

Since the closure, the three remaining schools have served kindergarten though fourth grade. Fifth-graders were moved to Westbrook Middle School, a $34 million building that opened in 2010 and now has no room to spare. Principal Matt Nelson said three teachers roll carts from classroom to classroom because they have no space of their own.

The year after grades were reconfigured, Saccarappa Elementary School needed to get a portable classroom to keep kindergarten classes from getting as big as 24 students. That need hasn’t gone away.

Gousse said if the school department were to expand its facilities, it would probably add onto Saccarappa, which doesn’t have a gym, or the middle school, where the third floor wasn’t built out because enrollment projections didn’t call for it at the time.

City Councilor Mike Foley said at the meeting he believes “the community is going to be pretty frustrated” that the schools are in need of more space so soon after selling a building. He said city officials asked over and over again if the Prides Corner building would be needed and were told no.

“It seems to be that facility would be pretty valuable right now,” he said.

Gousse said he stands behind the decision to close the school, which needed $2 million in immediate repairs, and would make the same decision again. He said he thought the district would be in a comfortable place for about five years and that the sudden population increase couldn’t have been predicted.

Foley asked that, before turning to a construction project, the schools look at existing facilities and other options, including consolidating the superintendent’s office with City Hall and using the administrative space for instruction.

Gousse said all options would be considered, including moving eighth-graders into space in the high school, but that no decisions would need to be made right away.

“We need to probably at some point make a go, no-go on what we’re going to do,” said City Council President Brendan Rielly. If that’s a renovation, he said, “let’s put that out there and move forward on it.”

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