Enrollment up, Space an Issue at Schools

The School Department may soon need to look for additional classroom space, as the system has seen a big increase in enrollment this year.

At last Thursday night’s School Committee meeting, Supt. Almi Abeyta updated the Committee on the latest enrollment numbers. With the latest report showing 6,312 students in the public schools, Abeyta said enrollment has increased by 200 students over this time last year.

“The increases in enrollment are across the board,” said Abeyta. “We are not anticipating huge jumps next year, but that is a huge increase for this year.”

With City Council Representative Leo Robinson in attendance, Abeyta noted that the school- and city-sides of the government may need to work on some planning.

“With that number increase, we will need to look at space,” she said.

In other business, the School Committee renewed a contract with Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Adam Deleidi through the end of the school year. Deleidi’s contract had been up on March 5. Under the new contract, Deleidi’s salary is $144,000 per year.

•Assistant Superintendent Sarah Kent updated the committee on several indicators of success for the schools, including the official state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) graduation rates for 2019-2020.

The four-year graduation rate of 64.1 percent is 1.6 percent above last year, just short of the 2 percent increase goal. However, the rate is higher than at any time in at least the past five years, and is nearly 7 percent about the four-year graduation rate for 2016-17.

District-wide attendance rates are down slightly from this time last year, with a year-to-date attendance rate of 92.6 percent. The district’s goal for daily attendance is 95 percent.

School Committeeman Henry Wilson asked if a new attendance officer in the system will help increase attendance rates and lower dropout rates.

“We are hoping that more feet on the ground will help motivate kids,” Kent said.

•The Committee also approved moving $1 million in funds from benefits, payroll adjustments, and insurance that are not needed this year to help pay for some one-time facilities expenses.

A $35,743 civics and learning grant was accepted from DESE, as well as a $3,000 honorarium from the National Science Foundation for participation in the Acceleration of Computing and Equity in High School Fellowship grant.

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