School committee sees 25% enrollment decline ahead
Enrollment at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) is projected to decline steadily by as much as 25 percent in 10 years' time, according to a report distributed to school committee members at a meeting Monday night.
James Weiss, superintendent of the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools, provided the report to the committee as an aid in long-term planning. It was prepared by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), which is based in Marlborough.
The enrollment projections are developed from actuarial tables based on the number of live births and the school population on the Island from 1990 to the present.
"We are members of NESDEC, and as such, they are willing to provide enrollment projections on a yearly basis if we give them information, which we do," Mr. Weiss explained. "They use statistical models to project to the future what our enrollment will look like, keeping in mind, of course, these projections depend on whether everything stays the same."
The enrollment projections will help school committee members plan for issues such as classroom space, school facilities and staffing over the next several years, Mr. Weiss said. "This is one tool we use. We also do census work ourselves, looking at the actual numbers of kids in classrooms, as another measure," he said.
In addition to enrollment projections, the report contains historical enrollment data. A graph demonstrates that from 1995 to 2005, enrollment peaked at 2,435 in the year 2000. Another graph based on data from this school year indicates that enrollment is expected to drop over the next five years, from 2,219 to 2,080.
In looking at high school enrollment projections, the report estimates the number of students in grades 9 to 12 will fall from 822 this year to 610 students in school year 2015-16.
Turning to a discussion regarding the school's criminal offender records information policy (CORI), Mr. Weiss suggested that the committee require the same background check for potential employees from out of state that is used for in-state hires. Massachusetts law requires that school districts obtain CORI data from the criminal history systems board on any prospective employee or volunteer of the school department.
As Mr. Weiss pointed out, a CORI check in Massachusetts would not provide information about someone's criminal record in another state. Mr. Weiss plans to suggest the same CORI policy change to other Island school committees, as well.
In other business, the school committee voted to certify the fiscal year 2007 budget. The total budget reflects a 2.8 percent increase from last year, factoring in higher fixed costs for insurance, heat, salaries, and electricity. Island towns will receive some money back in March 2006, with an overage from the high school's excess and deficiency fund returned in the form of reduced student assessments.
Once certified, the high school budget is mailed to each of the Island towns. Last week, Margaret (Peg) Regan, MVRHS principal, presented the budget and answered questions in a public meeting with representatives from the Island's boards of selectmen. In January, she and James Weiss, superintendent of Martha's Vineyard public schools, will attend selectmen meetings to discuss the budget implications for individual towns. The high school budget then goes before voters for approval in annual town meetings in the spring.