Enrollment at Joel Barlow High School set to fall below 800 – a 10-year drop of 19%

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REDDING — The number of students at Joel Barlow High School is expected to fall below 800 students for the 2022-23 school year, according to data presented to the Region 9 school board.

The school has 813 students this year, according to Superintendent Jason McKinnon. By fall 2022, that number is expected to drop to 795, a 9% drop from the 2018-19 school year, when 875 students were enrolled.

Enrollment data is projected based on factors such as actual enrollment, city population, labor force size, housing and migration patterns. The number of students in district schools affects the budget, state grants, and staffing levels.

“No projection is perfect, but its [demographer Peter Prowda’s] the numbers, they’re pretty close,” Joel Barlow manager Mario Almeida said during the Region 9 board presentation.

For the 2022-2023 school year, estimates call for five fewer students entering ninth grade and a smaller incoming grade 12 class of just 200 students. This spring, 213 seniors are expected to graduate from high school.

“At this time, we have not made any staffing or class decisions as the high school is in the process of enrolling students,” McKinnon wrote to The News-Times. “We should have that information in mid to late February.”

Over the past decade, high school enrollment has declined by 194 students or 19.3 percent, compared to a statewide average of 4.1 percent. Indeed, the city’s population fell by more than 4% in the 2020 census. Easton, however, grew by about one percentage point.

This decline is expected to continue at Joel Barlow over the next few years, dropping approximately 2-3% each year before rebounding almost 5% in 2028. Before that, however, the school is expected to reach a minimum of 731 students in 2027.

Over the next 10 years, high school enrollment across the state is expected to drop 10%.

Census data released last summer shows the number of children living in Connecticut has dropped significantly over the past decade, and the state recorded one of the lowest birth rates in the nation in 2019. , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s birth rate was only higher in three other states: Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

McKinnon said school districts in Easton-Redding-Region 9 have agreed to join the state’s “Open Choice” program that was created to allow Danbury students to attend schools in nearby towns. Participation in this program could bolster Joel Barlow’s projected enrollments in years to come. Unlike Redding, enrollment at Danbury is growing. It exceeded 12,000 students.

The program is expected to be implemented in the 2023-24 school year because too few local districts have signed up for the 2022-23 school year. The program coordinator said neighboring districts had not committed to the number of seats they could provide.

One in 10 students in Easton and Redding opt for private high schools, and 6.5% combined attend other public schools, are homeschooled, or attend magnet schools. The other 83% are dating Joel Barlow.

McKinnon said the district expects an increasing number of elementary students to eventually supplement the drop in high school. Elementary school enrollment “looks strong,” McKinnon told the Area 9 council during a Jan. 18 presentation.

Projections suggest that by 2031 Joel Barlow’s enrollment will drop to around 830 students.

Region 9 School Board President Mike D’Agostino did not respond to a request for comment on Joel Barlow’s enrollment and plans.

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