It would cost $186 million to return Roseville’s aging school buildings to like-new conditions, officials told residents at a meeting Tuesday night.

They quickly added that nothing on quite that scale is realistic. But the startling number seemed a means of preparing residents for the possibility of a significant referendum request coming soon.

The multi-suburb district’s buildings are much smaller than will be needed soon, given enrollment projections, they said.

“The high school is over capacity today,” architect Vaughn Dierks said, and the district as a whole is nearing that point as well.

Nor are buildings air-conditioned at a time when large numbers of students participate in summer programs, he added.

Officials said most of the district’s buildings were created more than half a century ago by people who remembered what their schools were like in the 1930s.

“If you go to the schools, you see a lot of them look like they did in the 1950s,” Dierks said. “That’s a testimonial to the quality of the materials, but they’re feeling the stress of that age.”

Enrollment in the Roseville Area Schools is rising and expected to jump still more as elderly inhabitants give way to young families, a demographic analysis shows.

Enrollment is expected to rise 15 percent to 23 percent in 10 years, taking the total from roughly 7,500 students to between 8,700 and 9,200 students. The existing capacity is only a little larger than the current enrollment.

In a competitive era for schools, when parents have lots of choices, Roseville’s “capture rate” — the share of potential students who choose to attend the district’s schools — is subpar, the district’s research found.

Committees have been meeting for months examining the problems, and months of work remain before specific solutions are proposed, Superintendent Aldo Sicoli said.

Dierks’ summary made these points:

• Many of the network’s buildings make a negative impression. “The community center is in extremely tough condition; anyone who’s been there can see that.”

• Every building has problems with temperature control, and there is “tremendous potential” for greater energy efficiency, though not if the payback period is too long.

• Safety and security were major topics for all committees, and with buildings getting little work since the 1990s, worries about security have risen since the latest renovations were conducted.

• Sidewalks are missing in many places, and clear pathways are needed.

Officials appealed to residents to step forward and help guide the rest of the process.

The next step is for an “options committee” to begin meeting in January with the task of sketching in specific choices for the school board to make. Under the original schedule, a referendum could be set as soon as the fall of next year.

The district’s $48 million referendum in the early 1990s was at the time the largest in the state’s history, officials said.

Linsey Owen, a member of one of the committees that worked this fall, told the group, “Let’s think about the great and exciting possibilities that exist.”