Friday, May 20, 2005
CCHS expects 2006 enrollment surge
Roughly 40 more students than expected have requested schedules for the fall term at Concord-Carlisle High School. CCHS Principal Art Dulong told the Regional School Committee (RSC) on May 10 that he would like to see two-and-a-half FTEs (full time equivalent teachers) hired to handle the extra students, but money for extra teachers is not in the budget. Larger class sizes are another possibility.
Budgets, prepared in early spring, used available projections of student population. A large part of the volatility of the student population comes from the number of students who decide to go to private school or return from it. It is not until the first week of May that students receive acceptance letters from private schools. Dulong said, "We always have more students who request fall schedules at CCHS than actually come." The current number of students is 1,242, but Dulong expects 1,286 for the fall.
Committee member Michael Fitzgerald asked, "Where are you going to put the extra 40 kids?" Dulong replied, "Space is an issue." There are not enough classrooms in certain departments for all the courses given. Classes for English, History and Math spill into other areas of the building where free classrooms can be found. Dulong said the high school is running at 93% utilization of classrooms, which is extremely high. "It is an extraordinary burden to [find room] to take the AP exams. It's a tremendous strain to do the MCAS testing." All sophomores have to take the MCAS tests. Since many courses include sophomores and juniors, classrooms just do not free up for MCAS testing.
Dulong said a number of classes already have projections in the high twenties or larger. The Latin II and Chinese I classes have a projection of 30 students each. Some Spanish classes and the standard statistics math course have roughly 28 students. The freshman English sections have 25 or 26 students. Dulong said he would not shift money approved in an override vote in Concord for additional FTEs in music, art and drama for these newly found needs in academics.
The CCHS Feasibility Study Group is using 1,350 as the enrollment estimate to be accommodated by CCHS expansion. Fitzgerald questioned whether the estimate was still a reasonable number to use. "Should we readdress this?" He added that houses continue to be built in the two towns and 40B developments could have a significant impact on education.
Member Becky Shannon said, "We cut the CCHS budget so close." Betsy Bilodeau, also a member, said, "We need some wiggle room." Dulong added, "I still can't believe how tight the budget is here. A slight variation causes the whole system to go askew...[But} it's hard to ask for an extra $120,000 that might be needed for contingencies," such as higher than expected enrollment.
© 2005 The