New stats show Fairfield school enrollment on the rise
Enrollment in Fairfield's public schools is expected to increase between 1 and 3 percent each year for the next 10 years, according to a report the Board of Education received Tuesday night.
That same report also shows that the while the town's schools might have the physical space to accommodate those students, quite a few of the elementary schools don't have enough space when factoring in special programs like music, science and art. The report surveyed what elementary schools now lack those special accommodations rooms when calculating the school's capacity.
At a school like Dwight in the Greenfield Hill neighborhood, the board was told, it's going to feel crowded because music is held on the stage and small groups meet in the hallways.
The enrollment projections show, said board Vice Chairman Pam Iacono, that, "We have all the kids in all the wrong places."
The school board took no action on the enrollment report from MGT of America at the meeting. Chairman John Mitola said it will be reviewed by subcommittees, which will then make recommendations to the full board.
Don Cromwell, from MGT, said the capacity of a school depends on how it is used -- change the educational program there and the capacity also changes. "It all depends on the instructional program," he said, and many town schools built in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s have difficulty meeting the instructional programs of today.
School board member Tim Kery said it is a "grave concern" for him that the lack of specialized classrooms means the school district is short the number of student seats it needs to deliver the educational program that school officials have set as a base for all pupils .
The 10-year enrollment projections indicate that Fairfield's total school population will grow from the current overall enrollment of 10,026 students to 11,081 in the 2020-21 school year. Joseph Clark, from MGT, said while the town's birth rate is expected to decrease, Fairfield attracts a lot of new residents, many of whom can be expected to have young school-age children.
"We spoke with a number of people in the town; the town planners, the Connecticut Real Estate Board, the Fairfield Real Estate Board," Clark said, "just to get a sense of where they thought things might be going." Clark said his firm is confident in its projections and suggested the school board continue to monitor the numbers moving forward.
"We don't think are numbers are going to that far off," he said.