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Enrollment Figures Show Redistricting Again Not Needed

Projections also show elementary enrollment gradually declining, meaning a school or two could be closed over the next decade.

Enrollment figures show class sizes in the town’s seven elementary schools have evened out this year, making redistricting again unnecessary, according to School Business Manager Ruth Quinn Berdell.

Figures also appear to show that elementary enrollments have peaked and are on a gradual downturn which could mean as many as two elementary schools may become unnecessary over the next decade.

In the meantime, this September’s kindergarten enrollment is 34 students higher than expected making it necessary to add back the two sections that were cut from this year’s budget.

And while class sizes across town are no longer as disparate as they had been last year when there were kindergarten classes of 16 students at and 23 at , there are still seven elementary classes over the schools’ recommended guideline of 24 students. Last year 11 elementary classes were over guideline.

Hunnewell continues to be among the most crowded, with four classes over guideline this year, including a second grade class and a fifth grade class with 26 students each, a third grade class with 25 and a fifth grade class with 27.

has two fourth grade classes with 25 students and Hardy has a second grade class with 25.

Upham is the smallest elementary school with just two classes in each grade and 244 students, and Sprague edges out as the biggest with 402 students, six more than at Bates.

Families with school-age children moving to town contributed to an additional 106 elementary students, 11 middle school students and 10 new students at the high school.

Sprague was the elementary school most affected by this in-migration, with 51 new students moving into the district from out of town, the same number as last year.

“It seems like everyone is moving in with a kindergartener, a three-year-old and an infant,” said School Committee Chairwoman Suzy Littlefield, adding that is exactly what she and her husband did many years ago.

And while families with school age children continue to move into Wellesley, a number of Wellesley families opt to send their children to private schools.

This year a total of 107 students left the public schools to go to a private school - with 160 going and 53 coming back.

Of those 107, 41 students left the , 29 left the high school and 37 left the elementary schools for private schools.

In addition, a total of 102 students moved out of town, 67 elementary students, 15 middle school students an 20 high school students.

While enrollment at the elementary schools has peaked, middle school enrollment will continue to grow over the next few years peaking in 2014-15, according to Berdell’s figures. And the same is true at the high school, where enrollment will also continue to grow until a peak in 2017-18.

The renovation of the Middle School to add classrooms and the new high school, which will have a capacity of 1,600 students, should be able to withstand the peaking enrollment, according to Berdell.

And the 105 classrooms in elementary school buildings, plus an additional 15 modular classrooms spread across town at , Hunnewell, , and Upham.

Seven of these were installed in 2006 at Fiske and Schofield, but the remaining eight are between 14 and 18 years old and in need of what could be costly repairs.

Currently all of the modular classrooms are being used. Ten are being used as regular classrooms, three are used for art and music programs and the therapeutic program uses both at Hunnewell.

The projection for next year is that 113 elementary classrooms will be needed to accommodate the expected enrollment. While that figure is two less than are being used this year, it would still require the use of at least one of the older modulars.

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