Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Update: Brunswick school enrollment

Punch line: Current figures well below consultant projections.

Yesterday, Brunswick’s School Superintendent provided Side with the latest enrollment figure for our schools.  This figure gets reported to the State DOE twice a year, in April and October.

The current enrollment is 2,564, down from the 2,655 figure reported in April, for a drop of 91 or about 3.5 percent.

The figures in our files show that we peaked in the 05-06 school year with 3,355 students.  So in five years, enrollment has declined by 791, or more than 23%.

Most of the drop is clearly from the departure of our Navy population, but there is, as well, a persistent enrollment decline statewide of about 3%  a year due to general demographic factors.  We are a very old state, and our young, few as we have, are moving elsewhere.  The ones who stay have fewer children than in the past.

The enrollment studies done twice in recent years by consultants, spurred by the new school construction plan, showed a military student population of 660.  And there is the loss of Durham tuition students to account for.

We just pulled out the report completed by Planning Decisions in April, 2007.  On page 26 of that report, 3 projection models are shown, each predicting the exact same enrollment in school year 16-17, a total of 2,927, which in itself is extremely curious.  The report asserted that vacated Navy housing would be occupied by young families who would cause our enrollment to rebound and stabilize. That notion is folly in and of itself, given the never-aging nature of a military population.

More to the situation today, the current enrollment of 2,564 is over 100 less than the most pessimistic year in any of the three models.  Even more alarming, the current figure is over 200 less than any of the models showed for the 10-11 school year.

This report is only slightly more than 3 years old, yet we are already 200 students below what these costly expert consultants said our enrollment would be for this school year.

That gives me great pause, as it should you.  And to refresh your memory, the Portsmouth area has never rebounded in school enrollment and population since the closure of Pease AFB, even though the redevelopment into a business and transport center has been successful.

Those who stood up and said “Brunswick will continue to grow,” and that young families will flock to vacated Navy housing, are free to submit comments here, either to challenge this commentary, or to provide countermanding signs of optimism.

(Full Disclosure: this correspondent, with 80+ fellow Brunswick citizens, filed a civil suit against the State Department of Education, challenging it’s decision to fund the new elementary school in town.  The suit claimed that the decision to fund was made before it was known that the base would close, and was therefore defective.  The case was dismissed on technicalities raised by the Attorney General’s office, and never received a hearing.)

So, petty self-interest aside, we once again call forth a favorite closer here: breath holding is not recommended.

(Oh…and this bit of expert consultation is provided to concerned and faithful readers on a pro bono basis.  As they say, you get what you pay for.  Talk about a double entendre!  That could be PDI’s corporate motto.)

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1 comment:

  1. Mr. Poppycock, you forgot to report that the new school was to be designed for 750 students yet recent commentary by our school leadership is now talking about 600 to get it much closer to the probable 500 that it will be. That is probably not bad since it will, in a few years, enable the Jordan Acres school to be closed and the students transferred to the less than full new school.