By Alex Malm
Superintendent, Dan Black, briefed the School Board on the findings of the New England School Development Council demographics study during the Nov. 7 meeting. It was decided by the School Board and the administration to have the in-depth demographics study done, after seeing a lower kindergarten class this year.
“The NESDEC study is a very useful report for the School District to be mindful of trends and population dynamics around us now and into the future,” Black said.
Black said one of the things that NESDEC pointed to is to keep an eye on “a few larger projects coming to Londonderry to study their impact on our schools.”
“We have to keep a really close eye on all the developments in town,” Black said.
Black said that NESDEC pointed out that like many other communities in New England there “is a lot of construction in the real estate market in town.”
It was also noted that unlike many other New England towns, “many people stay in the community and move through the system, they can see that in the numbers from year to year.”
“If families do leave the schools, they are replaced by new families,” Black said.
He said that “the number of multi-unit houses seems to be outpacing the number of single-family homes in terms of new construction in town.”
Black also noted that the “number of students per household has steadily declined over the last 30 years even though the total number of housing units has increased in Londonderry.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the study that Black pointed to is that the current “small class in Kindergarten does look to be an anomaly.”
“They do project an overall Kindergarten class of 250 to 270 based on our current level of births over the next decade,” Black said.
Another thing pointed out by Black from the study is the fact the district’s school age population “has shrunk since 2010, but our under 5 population has started to grow slightly, while the over 65 population has grown.”
It was explained by Black that NESDEC “agreed that some of the reasons behind this suddenly smaller class in Kindergarten could be part of the larger real estate trends where many residents have not transitioned out of their homes to a younger generation with families, and perhaps we have done too good of a job explaining the issues with a half day Kindergarten program.”
Overall, Black said the projection of the next decade “looks to be between 3900 to 4100 students in our schools.”