Barrington student enrollment expected to increase

Increase may leave school officials scrambling for space

By Josh Bickford
Posted 1/12/21

Barrington school officials are expecting the student population will increase by more than 200 over the next 10 years.

During a school committee meeting on Thursday night, Barrington Schools …

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Barrington student enrollment expected to increase

Increase may leave school officials scrambling for space

Posted

Barrington school officials are expecting the student population will increase by more than 200 over the next 10 years.

During a school committee meeting on Thursday night, Barrington Schools Director of Finance and Administration Doug Fiore shared a report detailing the student population. The report included a historical look at the district as well as a 10-year projection, which showed an increase of 211 students by the year 2030-31.

Currently, Barrington schools have a total student population of 3,323. A projection offered by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) showed a moderate upward trend, culminating in 2030 with an expected student population of 3,534.

That increase could leave school officials searching for space to accommodate the additional students, although officials did not discuss that topic in detail.

Officials said the projection was based on historical data, planned housing projects, and in response to the construction of the new middle school; research has shown that new schools tend to result in an increase in student population.

The presentation offered during the school committee meeting shared a slide on the planned housing projects in town. Most of the projects, officials said, catered to the 55-and-older demographic. However, districts administrators are still anticipating 32 additional students from the other projects.

Mr. Fiore said Barrington public schools were not experiencing the same exodus of students to charter schools that some other districts were facing.

In fact, the projections show student population increases at all grade levels in Barrington. Officials said the projection was also based partly on data for children who are not yet school-age.

NESDEC has been pretty accurate, Mr. Fiore said.

Immediate impact

The NESDEC estimates are slightly different than the immediate classroom projections offered by the district, although Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore cautioned that district enrollment numbers are likely to change before the start of the next school year.

While NESDEC is projecting 3,347 students in the district in 2021, classroom estimates were closer to 3,268.

Officials may also need to re-arrange staffing at some of the elementary schools to accommodate more immediate student population shifts.

For example, the district is anticipating an additional pre-kindergarten class at Primrose Hill School in 2021-22, and an additional second grade class at Primrose. Off-setting the need for those additional classes are possible class-size reductions at Sowams (second grade), Nayatt (second grade) and Primrose (third grade).

The student population at Hampden Meadows and at the middle school are expected to drop a bit next year, while the high school will increase slightly.

Historical data

How do the NESDEC projections compare to the actual student enrollment figures for Barrington? In the past, the projections have been pretty accurate.

According to information provided by the district, the projections have been between 98.5 and 102.7 percent accurate — the largest fluctuations over the last 10 years have been between 50 and 85 students (up or down), although most years the projections are much closer to accurate.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.