Schools See Enrollment Trending Up

By Adam Swift

School enrollment figures are up, compared to both the numbers in October of the current school year and to last year, according to Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard.

During Monday night’s School Committee meeting, Howard said there are 109 more students enrolled than there were overall during the last school year, and 51 more students than were enrolled on Oct, 1.

“We are very focused on enrollment and keeping an eye on the numbers not just to see how many kids go to the Winthrop Public Schools, but it’s about class size and where we are moving to,” said Howard.

Howard said the district keeps an ongoing view of enrollment throughout the school year, keeping an especially close eye on where there are bubbles and shifts toward increased enrollment in grades.

“We are in the deep tracks of that now, and that will help us guide teacher numbers,” said Howard. “So if we need to shift some teachers into a different grade level to cover a bubble.”

The bubble last year was at the fourth grade, and the bubble next year is going to be at the fifth grade, Howard said.

“So we are trying to make sure we are maintaining class size as best as we can,” said Howard, adding that there should be more concrete numbers on class sizes at the next school committee meeting.

Howard reviewed the current class sizes as of Friday of last week.

“At the high school level in October, there were 587 students, and as of Friday, the high school had 591 students,” said Howard. “But in October of last year, there were 562 students, so there is a pretty significant jump.”

The middle school numbers were fairly consistent, with 426 currently, compared to 425 in October and 423 last year.

At the Cummings School, there were 439 students enrolled as of Friday compared to 431 in October. At the Gorman Fort Banks Schools, there were 519 students enrolled as of Friday, compared to 491 in October.

“Overall, we had 1,992 students as of Friday,” said Howard. “Primarily, the elementary school is where we are seeing the rise. So 1,992 students are 51 additional students since Oct. 1.”

That total enrollment number is 109 more students than last year.

Howard said the increased enrollment numbers affect how the district thinks about its commitment to class size and the number of teachers it has, especially at the elementary and middle school levels.

School Committee member Suzanne Swope asked how those enrollment figures would impact space needs within the schools.

Howard said each of the buildings are fairly tight for space right now and the district is looking at how to best utilize space within the buildings.

“My concern is when we can’t add any more classrooms inside the structures we have, but we’re not there yet,” said Howard. “My biggest fear is those portable, ugly buildings that you have to stick to the side of the building, and hopefully, we won’t get there.”

The superintendent said the increase in enrollment of 109 students is the largest she has seen in some time, but she also noted that there was a noticeable drop in enrollment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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