Student population expected to stay steady
Published 1:05 pm, Saturday, December 10, 2016
NEW CANAAN — There are 4,210 students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in the New Canaan public school system. By the 2026-27 school year, there will be about 4,212.
New projected enrollment numbers for New Canaan show a plateauing of the student population that’s expected to stay steady for the next decade.
The enrollment projections are just that — projections. According to superintendent Bryan Luizzi, the numbers, compiled by the New England School Development Council, are based on historical enrollment numbers, birth rates and real estate factors, such as sales and construction in town.
“Based on history, it seems for us, once we get to a new high, we don’t go down from those numbers,” Luizzi said. “We seem to be in a period of sustained stable enrollment.”
According to the Development Council numbers, K-12 enrollment in New Canaan public schools is expected to hover around 4,200 for the next 10 years. However, those numbers are subject to change.
Auditorium renovations, as well as new art and science classrooms at Saxe Middle School, are predicted to be done by the end of 2017, expanding the building capacity to 1,400 students. About 1,400 students are enrolled now.
Luizzi said demographics show renovations and additions to school buildings in the district can bring students at private schools into the public school system.
Families moving into town is an additional factor that may cause enrollment numbers to go up.
“Often people aren’t moving out when kids are school age,” Luizzi said. “It’s the opposite.”
New school-age families coming to New Canaan is making up for the decline in the birth rate, the superintendent said.
Luizzi said since the Development Councilnumbers were entered in October, 12 new students have been enrolled in the public school system.
Though the enrollment numbers are subject to change over the next few years, Luizzi said New Canaan is not planning expansions on any other buildings. There is still room at the high school, he said, and the elementary schools are nearing capacity, but will still have space for an additional class in years when numbers might go up slightly.
Staffing is also not a concern. Other than adding teachers at the high school in preparation for a large incoming class — the eighth grade class at Saxe is the largest in the district — Luizzi said there is little need for any other staffing changes. Any necessary staffing decreases to handle years of lower enrollment will likely be accounted for in teacher retirements in the upcoming years.
“We don’t see a bubble,” Luizzi said. “When enrollment hits a high, it stays that way.”