School District Sees Rise in Enrollment for Second Straight Year

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With another increase expected this year, enrollment in New Canaan Public Schools is bucking recent projections that it would flatten, officials said Monday.

The district now has 4,194 students enrolled for the upcoming academic year—28 more than last year and 29 more than projected, according to NCPS Director of Human Resources Darlene Pianka. (The figures do not include preschools.)

During an enrollment update to the Board of Education on Monday night, Pianka said New Canaan’s elementary schools now have 1,491 students enrolled—14 more than at the end of June—and that the district will add a kindergarten section at East School and fourth-grade section at South School to maintain acceptable class-size levels.

Responding to Board member Dionna Carlson’s observation that recent projections showing a flattening in enrollment are not bearing out, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said, “It’s not bearing out and it’s not bearing out in the region.”

“We are hearing from the towns around us that where it was bearing out, they are seeing a turnaround,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “We are a little concerned about a labor shortage, so we are aggressively going into the market to shore up those long-term subs that are certified positions. We are saying hire people that you want to be teaching in your classroom if you can, because that need may arise and you may need to shift them right over”

Luizzi added that some neighboring towns are hiring new teachers in double-digits right away.

“I think the out-migration of the city is accelerating it for us, but we never saw it significantly moving in the opposite direction,” he said.

District officials have said that enrollment in public schools can continue to shift dramatically through the summer, and that a final number cannot be had until September. According to Pianka, the enrollment at the elementary level right now is just six shy of the figure projected by the Marlboro, Mass.-based New England School Development Council, known as NESDEC. Enrollment at Saxe Middle School is already at 1,347 compare to a NESDEC projection of 1,319, and enrollment at New Canaan High School is at 1,356 compared to the NESDEC projection of 1,349.

Driven mainly by high enrollment in kindergarten one year ago, the district saw an overall increase of 59 students for the 2019-20 school year.

Vice Chair Brendan Hayes said, “It’s great to see things trending in the right direction.”

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