Superintendent warns of influx in preview of capacity study
Over the next 10 years, the Hopkinton Public Schools could see an additional 1,000 students enrolled, according to a recent capacity study report that was commissioned by the district.
The capacity study has been in process over the past few months to look at the district’s buildings to help determine a plan of action for the ever-increasing student enrollment in Hopkinton.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Cavanaugh presented a preview of a capacity study during the Nov. 14 School Committee meeting, informing the committee that the full report would be presented at a future meeting.
Over the past five years, close to 500 students have joined the Hopkinton Public Schools, and those numbers will continue to increase, according to the study’s projections.
“Based on the rate of new residential construction, an active real estate market, in-migration of new students, a stable birth rate and the quality of the school system, we have to prepare for a future that is going to be different from the past,” Cavanaugh said.
In the past, the district has relied on estimates from the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), but after the actual numbers of students far surpassed the expected numbers for the past few years, the district started to think about enrollment predictions differently. In the past, Cavanaugh told the committee, estimates were created using birth rate data to make a determination on the number of students for the following year. But birth rate data underestimated the actual student enrollment for the past few years.
Another area that indicates an increasing enrollment estimate is the amount of new construction in the town. In 2007 and 2008 only 27 building permits were issued each of the two years. In 2016, 385 building permits were issued. Realtors contacted for the capacity study also reported that 80 percent of the home sales are due to people interested in moving into the town because of the schools.
“They found that people are really willing to pay to live in Hopkinton,” Cavanaugh said.
This is a trend that began several years ago, with the district adding approximately 500 new students in the past five years.
“We have 500 new kids and have not added a single classroom,” Cavanaugh added. “We have a huge space issue.”
If the projections are correct and the district gets an additional 1,000 students over the next 10 years, the district could be looking at a very difficult situation if more space isn’t added.
“How are we going to accommodate an additional 1,500 kids that have arrived in the last several years and will arrive in the next 10?” she said. “We need to act, and we need to act swiftly. Our schools are already too small. We need to come up with a 10-year plan.”
Cavanaugh encouraged the community to attend a public forum on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. to hear more about the immediate and future space needs of the district.