Enrollment Memo of 10-29-19

To:  Melrose School Committee

From:  Cyndy Taymore, Superintendent

Date:  October 29, 2019

Re:  Enrollment Data 

Please find included in this packet enrollment data for the past five years, beginning in the school year 2019-2020 (FY 20).   The information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education/Student Information Management System is based on the yearly October 1 count. It includes all demographics on which we are required to report.  To that end, we are also providing detailed summary charts for our local data, which show the distribution of students by school in a number of categories.  These charts do not include students at charter, private, or parochial schools or students attending other districts through school choice.  Please remember our enrollment fluctuates at different levels and in different categories over the course of the school year.  The purpose of the October 1 count is to set the enrollment count for Chapter 70 reimbursement for the following fiscal year. 
 
When you look at the data, you will observe the following:

1. Our enrollment continues its upward trend.  Including the Franklin ECC, we have 3977 students enrolled as of October 1, 2019.   Last year our October 1 count was 3945 students.

2. Last year, we used an increased number of 3650 students for Chapter 70 and budget planning.  The October 1 foundation this year is 3757 and we will use 3750 to plan for Chapter 70 funding.   This does not include the majority of Pre-K students.  As with tuition students, these students are not factored into the foundation numbers.  Only ECC students who receive special education services are factored in on a prorated basis.

3. Among our new students are 143 transfer students.  Of those students, 21 were returning from private/parochial schools and 5 were returning from charter schools.

4. As we all know, we continue to have a robust enrollment in Kindergarten.  The late August K number was as high as 335.  By the time of the October 1 count, enrollment was the same as last year’s total of 320.   Furthermore, due to the pre-school number, we planned for a strand of 16 Kindergartens with the two Kindergartens at the Franklin.  As with last year, our goal is to integrate the Franklin K students into the general education classes in grade one, continuing with either a 14 or 15 grade span (depending on final enrollment) that will roll up throughout the elementary schools through FY23.

5. This year, we have the 16 K classes, 14 classes at grades 1, 15 classes at grades 2, 3, and 4, and 13 classes at grade 5.  We should anticipate adding at least one elementary teacher next year.

6. Our English Language Learners population continues to grow.  This year we increased to 196 EL students, up from 182 last year.  For the third year in a row, we have added additional English as a Second Language staff.  We anticipate that this will be a continuing need and, as such, we need to expand ESL to the other elementary schools so that EL families can participate fully in intraschool choice. As an additional point of information, while 196 students receive English as a Second Language services, we have a total of 537 students whose first language is not English.  

7. Our minority population remains constant at approximately 21% this year.

8. We have had an increase in special education students ages 3-21 with 563 students this year up from 536 students last year.  As in previous years, our early childhood information continues to indicate an increase in students with significant needs, including autism spectrum disorder and behavior challenges.  Likewise, our out of district placements has an increase rising to 46 students from last year’s count of 39 students.  The increase can be contributed to a combination of increased enrollments, students moving in with out of district placements in their IEPs, and an increase in students with mental health challenges.  Based on this year’s numbers, our percentage of students classified as special education has increased to approximately 14% from 13% last year.  We continue our commitment to building in house programs so that our students have options to stay at their local school.  As always, this number is subject to change as we work with families who have children with more significant needs.

9. We continue to have a decrease in the number of our low income students which is now at 643 students, down from 670 last year.  This count is based on free and reduced lunch applications.  The state uses the new “disadvantaged” student category whose numbers are not yet available.  Based on our best estimate that number will be 425 students.  This difference impacts funding for Title grants.

10. Our homeless population has increased to 28 students from 20 last year at this time. This is another number that fluctuates over the year.  

11. As we complete our obligation to school choice students, we have 14 school choice students enrolled this year.  On the other hand, we have an uptick in international students with six attending this year.   Some of these students are through an exchange program, others are living with family friends.

12. Lastly, we have 13 “tuitioned in waived” students who are teachers’ children.  This is a provision only in the teachers’ contract. 
 
Additionally, you will find information from both the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School and Melrose High School showing 2019-20 school year enrollments for each class that is below 15 students or above 30 students.  While we have neither contract language nor policy regarding minimum class size, we do have contract language, newly revised in this year’s contact, regarding class size that states: 
 
The School Committee will make every reasonable effort, short of hiring additional staff, to reduce class size to twenty-five (25), or fewer, at all grade levels except where curriculum and method may require groups of larger size. At the secondary level, the School Committee will limit total student load, short of compelling the district to hire additional staff, to one hundred and twenty-five (125) students per full-time equivalent teacher except where curriculum and method may require groups of larger size. 
 
The only school policy that addresses class size is Policy JC, Elementary School Enrollment and Class Size and which states: The Committee recognizes that class size is an important factor in high quality education. It intends to maintain class sizes that ensure effective instruction using best practice, respect each family’s preference regarding the school their child(ren) will attend, allow all families equal choice, and provide equitable class size at each grade level across the district within the constraints of space availability and budget limitations. 

Because Melrose Public Schools has intraschool choice, the purpose of this policy is to address student assignment at the elementary schools and our goal to balance class size when registering new students. As we continue to grow, it has become increasingly difficult to meet families’ first choice requests.  This year only 80% of our families received their first choice request.  We may need to revisit this policy once we have more information about the use of the Beebe School.  
 

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