Student enrollment at South Burlington schools is still in flux amid COVID-19 recovery, according to Superintendent David Young.
He reported on current and projected enrollment rates at all district schools at a board meeting Sept. 23, noting that with over 400 students each at Orchard School and Rick Marcotte Central School, the sizeable elementary schools are at a “decision point.”
Across the board, enrollment seems slightly lower than predicted, although making projections at the kindergarten and first grade levels is difficult, Young said.
South Burlington High School enrollment was slightly down but has remained fluid, he said. Orchard saw an uptick in students, perhaps due to more readily available housing options in that area of the city, and the population at F.H. Tuttle Middle School is also fairly fluid.
While class sizes at Gertrude Chamberlin School are in “good shape,” Young emphasized that he needs to brainstorm solutions to Orchard and Rick Marcotte’s capacity issues.
“I need to be very proactive here in moving some things forward as we approach the 2023 budget,” Young told board members, meaning big changes could be in store for the bursting elementary schools.
In the last ten years, South Burlington has grown roughly 13 percent — about 2,388 new people — according to U.S. Census data released in August. Chittenden County has grown about 7 percent. With more housing stock being built across the city, class sizes will likely continue growing as more families move into the district.
“We need to be prepared to accept (students) and not create overcrowding more than we have today,” Young said. He plans to return to the board with potential options, including pros and cons and cost factors, for consideration this budget season.