Inside Education: Enrollment projections report

Annually, the Board of Education receives updates on student enrollment and future projections.  The demographer hired by the district, Milone & MacBroom, works throughout Connecticut to understand trends in demographics. This report includes a comprehensive, current enrollment analysis and projects them onto factors that influence future school enrollments. These factors include trends in demographics, births, housing and development, and private school enrollments.

The Board of Education (BOE), other town agencies and boards use this report to confirm short-term needs and establish long-term planning considerations for budgets and the utilization of resources.

Following are some of the key takeaways from this year’s report and BOE discussion:

  • Actual elementary enrollments once again exceed “high” projections, including Ridgefield’s kindergarten cohort that is about 9% larger than expected. Data supports that there is a significantly increased shift in Ridgefield toward families moving to town after their children are born and before they start school, rather than moving and then starting their families in Ridgefield.
  • The elementary school enrollment “trough” is expected in 2020-21 followed by a gradual increase. The elementary school population is not expected to dip below 1,900 students. This data is contrary to projections of a different demographer from several years ago that forecasted a much lower number.
  • Middle school enrollments are projected to decline over the next decade as smaller elementary school classes matriculate into the middle schools.
  • High school enrollment is projected to decrease substantially over the next decade.
  • Ridgefield has an unusually high persistency ratio (more in-migration to the schools than out-migration) that indicates Ridgefield families realize the value they receive in the public schools.

The district and board will carefully consider this information in its planning and budgeting. The full report can be found on the district website.

This column was submitted to The Press by the nine members of the Ridgefield Board of Education.