NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The enrollment in the district’s two elementary schools is spiking according to Superintendent David Miceli, who provided the latest enrollment figures at Thursday's Board of Education (BOE) working session.
As of Sept. 10, the total enrollment in the high school is 684 students, 366 in the middle school, 675 in Roberts School and 657 in Salt Brook School. By comparison, the June enrollment stood at 669 at Roberts and 645 at Salt Brook. The total numbers include pre-school students.
The first and third grades in Roberts School are maxed at 100 students per grade. Each first and third grade classrooms have 25 students. In Salt Brook School the largest classes are second and third grades with 97 and 98 students in respective grades, Miceli explained.
Several parents expressed concerns about the growing enrollment and large class sizes at the BOE’s August meeting. More parents attended the working session and expressed similar concerns. Molly Stassfurth said that the larger enrollment seems a trend. She asked “when do the spikes become normality and dips abnormality?”
Miceli explained that there have been spikes and dips for several years now and they are hard to anticipate. Board member Adam Smith added that the live birth rates, which the district monitors, are getting lower; however, the enrollment is going up.
Some parents pointed out that because of the New Providence Schools’ reputation more families are moving in. “What happens if both schools max out?” they asked. If the K-4 class size exceeds 25 students the district will hire an aid, but not a certified teacher, according to the district policy, Miceli explained. The cap for grades 4-8 is 27 students per class, recently lowered from 29 students, Smith added.
There are reading specialists in the two elementary schools that are enhancing the language arts education in K-2 grades. Some parents asked if there are plans to hire additional teachers to assist the math education at the lower grades.
Miceli noted that there are no plans to add teaching staff for math. “There is no classroom space” to add another teacher, he said. “The math has been our strong suit,” while language arts used to be “our weakness," he added.
High school enrollment is also growing. In June, the total enrollment was 658 students and in the beginning of the 2015-16 school year 684 students. The growing student population has resulted in some varsity sports programs being pushed up to group two placement.