The New Canaan school district has the highest enrollment in the last 30 years, according to a report presented to the Board of Education Oct. 15 by Gary Kass, interim assistant superintendent for human resources. The total number of students enrolled in the district is 4,178, an increase of 52 from last year. The projected enrollment for this year was 4,103, which missed the mark by 75 students.
Kass said the projections were very good for most grades, but that the big surprise came with the kindergarten class, which had more than 50 children more than projected.
Kass did not have any concrete answers for the change, but noted enconomic factors that may have led parents to enroll their children in New Canaan's school system.
"We think that's due to the economy and the desirability of our schools," he said. The district uses an educational planning consulting agency called the New England School Development Council to determine projected enrollment.
Although the numbers were accurate for much of the district, the kindergarten numbers gave administrators pause, causing them to form a study group to review data to support the NESDEC projections, Kass said in the report. While projections had previously been made based on a model that took the number of births in New Canaan five years previously and adding a multiplier effect, the study group has been looking more toward the number of pupils enrolled in nursery schools and pre-k's in the area.
Board member Jim Kucharczyk voiced his displeasure over the fact that the board had to form a group to study an issue that the board already pays a consulting agency to do. He stated that he had looked into what NESDEC's five-year projections from five years ago were and found the results to be unsatisfactory.
"According to NESDEC 2007 projection, we'd have 3,800-some students in our system this year," he said, leaving unsaid that the actual number, 4,178.
"Well, that lets us know our crystal ball is a little cloudy," school Superintendent Mary Kolek said.
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