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More Growth on the Horizon for Newton's Student Population

The Newton Public Schools will top 13,000 students by 2017, officials say.

Keeping with the trend of the last eight years, Newton's student population is on the rise again this year -- and will likely keep growing for the next five years or more. 

The Newton Public Schools grew by 248 students this year, or 2.1 percent, with 103 more students in the elementary schools, 52 more students in the middle schools and 93 more students in the high schools, according to Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan. 

Over the last eight years, the district has grown by 8 percent, or more than 900 students, to a total student population of 12,170. 

"I think it’s clear that we're growing, we have been growing and we will continue to grow," Ward 2 School Committee member Jonathan Yeo said during Monday night's meeting. 

During that meeting, Guryan presented the district's annual Enrollment Analysis Report, which shows the past and present student population as well as projections for future enrollment in the district. 

For more detailed analysis on the student growth, view the Enrollment Analysis Report and corresponding PowerPoint presentation in the .pdf section to the right.

While the district is already facing a space crunch, the classroom needs will only increase over the next few years as officials project enrollment to increase by another 7 percent, or 865 students, over the next five years, Guryan said. 

By 2017, officials believe the district will top 13,000 students, or 1,000 students per grade. 

One representation of the district's growth can be found in this year's kindergarten class. At 934 students, it is the largest kindergarten class in the district since the 1970s. 

Next year, that number is expected to jump to 962, Guryan said. 

This kindergarten growth demonstrates the strength of the move-in population, Guryan said, which was higher this year than the number of students who left the district. Over the last two years, the number of exits has been higher than the move-ins.

But not everything in Newton is growing; according to Guryan's report, the number of English Language Learner (ELL) students dropped by 1 percent this year and the number of special education students also dropped by 1 percent.

New short-term space needs

With all the added growth in the student population, school administrators also presented Monday night recommendations to add modular classrooms at four elementary schools and create new classrooms spaces at five other schools. 

"When you look at the last time we had kindergarten [classes] this large, we had 22 elementary schools," Yeo said. "Now, we have 15."

Guryan assured committee members that although the district has fewer elementary schools, building larger schools (such as the new Angier Elementary) would help with the space strain the district. 

"The thrust of the long-range plan is to recognize that we are going to be supporting over 6,000 elementary school kids, and we recommend that we deal with that by making larger schools," Guryan said. "If we do that, we'll be fine with 15 schools."

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