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Monday, September 22, 2014

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School enrollment steady, minor adjustments made

Published 3:47 pm, Thursday, July 31, 2014
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A month before the 2014-15 school year begins, enrollment in New Canaan Public Schools is steady, although projections show it could reach an all-time high.

The district's latest enrollment report shows a slight decrease of 10 students overall. Enrollment is estimated to go up by 28 at the elementary schools, down by 28 at Saxe Middle School and down by 10 at the high school.

Director of Human Resources Gary Kass said he's following the numbers closely in case the district needs to make staff adjustments.

"We like to monitor enrollment at this time of the year to see if we see any grade levels or sessions that would go beyond our class-size guidelines," Kass said.

Overall, there are 4,171 students enrolled in the district, down from last year's 4,181. Projections by the New England School Development Council show the district could reach 4,185, which would be an all-time high.

The biggest enrollment decline so far is in the fifth grade, where 64 fewer students are enrolled.

Kass said "it's hard to say what caused" the decline, but he noted the school has shifted some teachers from fifth grade to teach classes in the sixth grade, where enrollment is up by 51.

Altogether, kindergarten sessions have seen an increase of 26 students, which has also led to some minor adjustments.

"The numbers have caused us to add teachers in two sections of kindergarten so that we can maintain the board's class-size guidelines," Kass said. "Kindergarten numbers are always so challenging to project, so we just try to make the best educated guesses."

According to the Board of Education's guidelines, class sizes should be 16 to 20 students in pre-kindergarten to grade three, 20 to 24 students in fourth to eighth grades and 14 to 25 students in high school.

A new first-grade session also has been added at East Elementary School due to increased enrollment, Kass said.

Saxe has a total enrollment of 1,286, down from 1,314 from October, when enrollment for the 2013-14 school year was last measured. The high school's enrollment is at 1,255 and the elementary schools' is at 1,630.

Kass said he's "not expecting major changes" in enrollment until school starts Aug. 27, but he said he'd continue to monitor it closely. He also noted that New Canaan does not have a deadline for registration.

"It's always nice to have them register early, but it doesn't always happen," he said.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson