'Baby Bust' in Barrington?
School enrollment projections indicate that almost one out of every five current students in Barrington will be lost over the next 10 years.
Barrington must be going through a baby bust.
Enrollment in the schools is dropping, and projections for the future show that the decline will continue for years to come with the current enrollment of approximately 3,350 students dropping by about 600.
The School Committee was presented with enrollment projections from the New England School Development Council last week that show that 18 percent drop in students through 2022.
Finance Director Ron Tarro presented that picture of enrollment as part of the landscape for the board’s discussion of the 2013-2014 budget.
"Enrollment is almost all the grades is going down," he said.
Tarro did not present the numbers as set in stone, but simply as projections that are part of the outside influences on the budget that need to be taken into account when crafting a spending plan.
“They’re not as reliable as we’d like them to be,” Tarro said of the NESDEC projections. “But they are a definite factor to consider.”
If the schools lost 600 students, for instance, Tarro said in a story in eastbayri.com, “we’d potentially be looking at closing a school.”
Tarro told the School Committee that NESDEC develops its projections by looking at birth rates and other demographic factors. He was asked to come back to the board with an analysis of past projections to see how accurate they were.
Shifts in enrollment are common over periods of time as students move through the schools. That usually results in staff changes and gains or losses of staff, he said.
Nayatt School, for instance, has five third-grade teachers right now. But third-grade enrollment at Nayatt is expected to drop next year.
And the number of first-graders at Sowams School is larger than anticipated. That may mean adding a second-grade teacher there next year.
With Barrington losing almost one out of every five students in the schools right now, substracting -- not adding -- teachers would seem to be on the horizon with Barrington in a baby bust.