School Enrollment Figures Estimated to Climb: Likely Need for a New School Discussed

February 5, 2014
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Assistant Superintendent Dr. Thomas Stella told the Everett School Committee on Monday night that population and housing demand estimates for Everett indicate that the Everett School District could enroll an additional 2,000 students by the year 2030.

Those enrollment projections are at the core of Dr. Stella’s on-going work to establish a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which would lay the groundwork to build a new school in Everett in the future.

The revelation was part of a brief presentation Dr. Stella made about current school enrollment statistics and the impact of projected growth in the Everett schools.

“As I’ve been saying all year, our current enrollment figures for this year are pretty steady, at right around 7,000 students, but that steady told masks the fact that on any given week our system sees 15-20 students and their families leave the district because their families are moving and 15-20 students and their families move into the district,” explained Stella.

The high level of transience in the Everett school district is related to similar trends in other neighboring school districts and may be a result of the socio-economic factors such as job stability among certain family groups and ethnicities.

However, as troubling as that transience is, it is the prospect of continued growth in the city, a projection for several thousand new residential units to be built in the city and available data about the existing young families and the number of children being born in Everett that indicates the rapid growth in the Everett school district.

Using a report created by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for the Metro Boston region, and recent enrollment trends in the Everett district over the past several years, Stella explained that the school’s population already has grown by some 1,300 students since 2008 and if enrolment figures from 2005 are included, the actual growth in the Everett school system is more than 1,600 in the past ten years.

Local reports created by MAPC for school systems surrounding Everett showed similar projected growth totals.

With that growth in mind, and the data provided by MAPC, it is not difficult to see that a projection for 1,000 new students by 2020 and 2,000 more students by 2030 may actually be low.

The School Committee was not asked to take any action relative to the enrollment figures, but it was clear that they understand the potential impact.

School Committee member David Ela clarified that the current high school, which was built to accommodate 1,800 total students, currently is serving more than 1,950 students.

“So this building we are sitting in tonight is unable to handle its population within a generation of being built,” said Ela.

Added Frank Parker Jr., the Vice Chairman of the School Committee, “we’re not really talking about a need to build one new school building, we’re talking about making sure our facilities are capable of handling these additional students.”

Superintendent Frederick Foresteire noted that, “in the best case scenario, we (the city) can build a new school in four to five years, once we are in the (MSBA) process, but it is going to take a serious discussion with the city to get that level of commitment to start that process.”