The Londonderry School Board discussed a decrease in enrollment numbers for the month of October and the potential for reducing staff.
Superintendent Nathan Greenberg reported enrollment for grades Kindergarten-12 in October is at 4,392 students, compared with 4,398 students projected for that month – coming “pretty close to the projected gross number.”
“There will be areas where we will be able to reduce staff – it will partly depend on how many additional tuition students we are able to pick up,” Greenberg said, recommending the District maintain an “insurance position” in case there is an explosion of students in a given grade. “There is volatility in the elementary schools. What we’re seeing is a lot of new construction in the north end, but turnover in houses and apartments in the south end of town. Most of the families moving in have preschool or elementary school children.”
Greenberg said the District will be working with the Town to determine the impact that new home construction will have on future enrollment.
“It used to be if a three- or four-bedroom-home was built at a certain price range you could ‘bet the house’ there were going to be high school or middle school kids moving in,” he said. “But now we’re seeing families moving into three- and four-bedroom homes with elementary or middle school kids.”
As empty-nesters are seeing the equity in their home increase, they are down-sizing and younger families are moving in.
“The area most difficult to project will be the south end of town where there are a fair number of apartments,” Greenberg said.
Board member Leitha Reilly said she views the decrease in enrollment as a positive step toward reducing class sizes to a more appropriate level.
“In my opinion, the taxpayer in Londonderry who moved here for the schools has an expectation of class size,” she said. “I have been in classrooms with more students and once you get north of 20 elementary school kids in a classroom, it becomes more difficult to manage. Children’s attention span is a lot smaller than you might like them to have at that age and frankly the smaller the class size, the better.”
Reilly added she realizes there is a cost to maintaining smaller class sizes and she will be looking at that as the Board moves toward budget season.
“I know there are people saying years ago here in Londonderry they had kids in the boiler room and everywhere else and they turned out fine, but I don’t think that’s the expectation of the home buying public with a young family in this town,” Reilly said.