Though they are still preliminary, kindergarten enrollment numbers earlier this month that appear short of projections. There is no cutoff date for registration after the start of the school year and some students might remain an extra year before moving on to the first grade.
The number of new kindergarten students registered as of late January when the schools held official sessions, are currently “in line with regular numbers” the district has seen “in past years,” said Dr. Judith Pandolfo, assistant superintendent of elementary education in Darien.
Hindley School will have 73 new kindergarten students, 54 at Holmes, 46 at Ox Ridge, 55 at Royle and 59 at Tokeneke, Pandolfo said.
Last year Darien public schools had a sharp increase in elementary school students — 56 students over previous projections. This was attributed to new enrollment over the summer — months after the district passes its budget, which includes teachers’ salaries, for approaching school year.
Projections indicate that each elementary school might have one student more than this year’s total enrolled in 2013-14. These numbers are calculated by tracking the town’s birth rates and schools’ retentions, or students who repeat kindergarten, to aid in enrollment projections.
Two hundred and fifty-four children were born in Darien in 2007, meaning they were eligible to start kindergarten in the 2012-13 school year. The district allows children to start kindergarten if they turn five years old before January of the school year they wish to enter. “In order to be eligible to attend kindergarten in 2013-2014, children must be five years of age on or before January 1, 2014,” the district notes on its website.
There are 389 kindergarten students enrolled district-wide this year, including 10 students who are repeating the grade — four students more than estimates. There are four sections at each elementary school, with an average class size between 17.3 and 22.8 between the five schools. The district expected four less students
The “break point” for kindergarten sections is 24 students, according to the district’s enrollment reports, though it’s expected that none of the schools will have more than four sections through the 2016 school year. The district’s projections follow a birth rate that has been decreasing steadily since the new millennium. The projections show 202 births — an estimate — for 2011, whereas there were only 179, and 202 for 2012 — there were 122 by October 2012.
The district expects 394 kindergartners next year, based on 226 births in 2008.
Although Darien’s public school administrators have also accounted for new students in 2013 — about 20 over the entire year from “The Heights,” formerly Allen O’Neil properties, and 10 from Kensett Darien — these estimates are rough, and do not account for any ages in particular.
“We encourage people if they have children of kindergarten age, please bring them in and register,” Pandolfo, assistant superintendent said at the Feb. 12 board meeting. “The sooner we know the numbers the better prepared” the district will be.