Rising Darien School Enrollment Could Affect Budget

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Darien schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone said elementary enrollment could keep going up, requiring more sections. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. -- Darien school officials are predicting that continually increasing enrollment could require more classroom sections and more staff in the coming years. The schools are facing the possibility of having to add four more elementary classroom sections next year, and as many as eight within the next five years.

There are currently 110 kindergarten through fifth-grade classroom sections across the five elementary schools, plus six additional sections for the Early Learning Program. This is already five more sections than what was projected last year, and the numbers could continue to go up, according to Superintendent Stephen Falcone.

Officials project they will have the same number of sections next year. But new housing developments such as Kensett and the Heights at Darien could bring more children into town, Falcone said. The schools have identified four grade levels where, if one more student enrolls than projected, it would require creating a new section and the hiring of a new teacher.

The possible enrollment increases mean that there could be less room for the Early Learning Program, which is held at Hindley and Tokeneke elementary schools. The school district is looking at possible alternative locations for the program, including at other schools, the new Board of Education offices at 35 Leroy Ave., the senior center or possibly at commercial sites in town. The schools may have to hire a consultant to address this problem, which could cost $50,000.

Looking ahead to the future, Falcone said that in the next five years the enrollment projections mean there could be 117 sections in the 2014-15 school year and 118 sections the following year.

Falcone said the middle school is projected to have 10 fewer students next year. The high school could see an increase of 27 students, but he said this would not require hiring additional staff.

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It is not that surprising as Darien becomes, or is, known for its good schools, more people more here for that feature. Too bad $18,000,000 was wasted on a new police station .

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