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Enrollment steady, class sizes meet guidelines at New Canaan schools

Published 10:09 am, Thursday, October 31, 2013
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This school year's enrollment at New Canaan Public Schools came in slightly lower than last year's all-time high.

"The decrease has spread across grades, which has led to limited adjustments in resources and staffing," Director of Human Resources Gary Kass said at the Oct. 21 Board of Education meeting.

In total, 4,140 students are enrolled in the district in 2013-14. Although lower than 2012-13's 4,178, it is still the second-highest enrollment the district has had.

For comparison, during the 1995-96 school year, 2,991 students were enrolled. Much of the district's growth came in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the past eight years, total enrollment has increased by 49 students. In the eight years prior to that, the district increased by 882 kids.

Kass said one area where the student population has decreased is in special education. This year, 364 of the district's students qualify for special education, whereas three years ago there were 411. In that time, the number of special education students has decreased from 9.8 percent to 8.8 percent in the district.

"This can be attributed to very effective literacy and numeracy programs and early intervention," Superintendent Mary Kolek said, referencing early education programs the district has employed.

Kass noted that predictions can be difficult because of the number of variables involved. In his report, he noted the importance of the real estate market on the enrollment numbers.

"As soon as the economy and real estate situation improve in the region, additional immigration likely will return to New Canaan," the report stated. "In 2008-12, many communities in the region sold only about 60 to 80 percent as many homes as in 2003 to 2007. In the case of New Canaan, an average of 332 homes were sold annually in 2002 to 2007, yet the pace slowed to only 212 homes annually in 2008 to 2011."

Kass said he did not expect future enrollment to increase much more, but rather to remain between 4,100 and 4,200 students for the next 10 years.

Because of the stability in enrollment figures, 98.8 percent of the district's classes are at or below the Board of Education's recommended levels, which vary depending on the class.

The number of certified staff in the district was reduced by .90FTEs (Full-Time Equivalents) this year due to the slight decrease in enrollment.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @Woods_NCNews