District Tracks Public Schools Enrollment As Realtors Anticipate High Number of Move-Ins

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Though enrollment for New Canaan Public Schools next academic year remains largely in line with projections, district officials say they’re in communication with local real estate professionals who are anticipating a high number of move-ins from New York City amid the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

What initially had been a discussion about high demand in the local rental market now appears to be true for prospective homebuyers, according to NCPS Director of Human Resources Darlene Pianka.

“I think the general consensus is that the spring market is just starting to happen right now,” Pianka told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting, held Monday night via videoconference. “So houses are coming onto the market in a delayed manner. Where we would have been starting the housing market in March, things slowed down for those three months and are just beginning to pick back up. Anything can happen and we are certainly watching it every day.”

The comments, made in response to a question from Board of Ed member Sheri West, came as Pianka reviewed the district’s own enrollment numbers, based largely on data verification with public school families, and compared those figures against projections from the Marlboro, Mass.-based New England School Development Council, known as NESDEC.

Overall, the district now is projecting 4,176 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade for the academic year that will commence in the fall, compared to NESDEC’s projection of 4,165. The district’s own projection figures will fluctuate as more data comes in from families, those moving in as well as those moving out, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said.

Board of Ed members asked whether the district’s own projections include pre-registrations or incomplete registrations (only full registrations at this point, or completion of a one-page survey), whether the district is seeing any major changes at the kindergarten level based on the fact that virtual education is more difficult for younger grades (no) and whether New Canaan has data about how its projections compare to towns such as Darien, Wilton and Westport (that information is forthcoming).

Luizzi said, “I think the Realtors would tell you that demand is increasing throughout the region.”

Chair Katrina Parkhill said that given the real estate market “and just because we are seeing a lot of later movement than we typically otherwise would have, it might be helpful—maybe we already do—to ask realtors to work with us on this and encourage people who, once they sign contracts or sign a lease, to let us know as soon as possible.”

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