MARLBOROUGH – The Marlborough Public Schools is attempting to alleviate overcrowding in school buildings amid a sharp increase in enrollment.
The district has seen a 5.82% increase in total enrollment, adding 270 new students since Oct. 1 according to data included in the School Commitee’s Feb. 8 meeting packet.
The district now hosts over 4,900 students.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve seen,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Bergeron in that Feb. 8 meeting. “We have not had an enrollment increase like this in some time.”
Two new classrooms for Goodnow
Even with the enrollment increase, Bergeron said he does not plan to modify classrooms for the current school year. Rather, two additional classrooms will be added to Goodnow Brothers Elementary School next year as that school has seen the greatest spike in enrollment within the district.
According to Bergeron, approximately 80% of new enrollments are English learners.
“A majority of the students that are coming in are EL ones and twos, which are beginners,” said Bergeron. “I would say of the population we’ve seen enroll, a very high percentage are EL students.”
Bergeron did previously note enrollment data in a meeting back in September, saying at that point that this year’s first grade class in particular had been larger than anticipated.
“I think we were expecting a bump there,” he told the School Committee at the time. “I don’t think we were expecting that big of a bump.”
Bergeron said at that meeting, which took place on Sept. 28, that this spike could require the addition of a full-time equivalent position for the second grade next year.
Richer Elementary School prepares for future overcrowding
As schools across the district face these enrollment increases, the district may soon seek support from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to alleviate future overcrowding.
A unanimous vote on Feb. 8 by the School Committee authorized Bergeron to submit a statement of interest for Richer Elementary School to receive funding from the authority. The district believes the MSBA can help alleviate deficiencies within the school.
The district hopes to address current overcrowding, to prevent future overcrowding and to repair and modernize school facility systems to increase energy conservation.
“It takes time,” Bergeron said of the MSBA process, though. “It’s like getting in line.”
“The MSBA operates under the emergency room protocol,” he continued. “Whoever has the most need gets the project first.”
He said that, although the district believes it has a “strong reason” to receive funding, it “may not be the priority this year.”
Marlborough has sought funding for multiple projects through the MSBA in the past. That includes a request for grant funding for the new Goodnow Brothers Elementary School under the MSBA’s Model Schools program.
The funding Bergeron is currently seeking is similar to funding received in 2011 and 2014 for enhancements to Marlborough High School and Francis J. Kane Elementary School.
The superintendent’s statement of interest now moves to the Marlborough City Council for a vote before its submission.