WESTPORT — As out of state residents continue to flock to Connecticut during the pandemic, the town’s public school system is seeing spikes in enrollment.
“It is obviously an anomaly and we will say it’s pretty much related to COVID and people moving particularly out of New York City and coming up to the suburbs,” John Bayers, human resources director, told members of the school board at its meeting this week. “This is not unique to Westport. My colleagues in the neighboring districts are reporting the same spike in enrollment.”
The enrollment spike largely impacts the district at the lower grade levels, he said.
Bayers said Greens Farms School saw the largest jump with the district originally budgeting for 381 students, but now reporting 421 students enrolled. The spike has affected four grade levels — kindergarten, first grade, second grade and fifth grade — and increased the number of sections from 18 to 22, he said.
“That’s getting back to the years when many of us were at Green Farms and we had 24 sections,” Bayers said. “It’s amazing how quickly it’s jumped in one year.”
Coleytown Elementary School reported 424 students enrolled, up from the 408 students the district budgeted for. Kings Highway School reported 465 students, up from 441. Long Lots School saw a spike in second grade and went from 536 students enrolled to 559.
Bayers said Saugatuck School saw a slight decline from 417 projected students to 413 currently enrolled.
“They’re falling short of what was projected in kindergarten but saw a slight rise in grade three so they actually remain neutral, if you will, at 21 sections,” Bayers said.
At the middle school level, 1,220 students are currently enrolled, up from the 1,202 projected, Bayers said. Staples High School saw a slight decline with 1,809 students enrolled, down from the 1,818 students projected.
The enrollment spike district-wide also included 45 new families who are eligible for special education services, according to Michael Rizzo, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services.
“The increase of enrollment is great news. We welcome all of our families,” he said. “We are working very quickly to get up to speed with all of these students and their families to make sure their programs are in place for the first day of school.”
BOE member Youn Su Chao questioned how students who are new but engaged in remote learning could be affected.
“There have been some concern about students getting to know who their teachers or classmates might be,” she said.
But Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said students engaged in remote learning would have their specials scheduled at the same time with the same students.
“I think as far as staffing is concerned, we’re in a really good position for people transitioning into distance learning or back into the hybrid model,” Buono said.Read Full Article
There were also discussions about hiring substitute teachers to staff the distance learning program, according to Bayers. The district decided to forego this for now because of the uncertainty of how long they may be needed, he said.
“But I feel confident in our ability to open on Tuesday and have the staff in place to have a successful start based on where we are today,” Bayers said.