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SC Meeting: December 13, 2022

At the December 13 School Committee Meeting there was a presentation by the NHS Student Advisory Board, and discussions of the 2024-2038 enrollment projections and the Superintendent's Budget Request for FY 2024.

Superintendent Comments

Dr Gutekanst noted some outstanding achievements by Needham High School students.

  • Senior Leyna Blume was selected to the National Choir

  • Sophomore Roy Graham won an international gold medal in fencing

  • SALSA Club won Norfolk County Peer Leadership award for the 7th year in a row - $1500

  • Needham High School Students Acting to Make a Difference (SAMD) donated $7500.00 to Circle of Hope after their Addams Family Musical Performance

Needham High School Student Advisory to the School Committee Report

NHS Students presented an update to the School Committee.

  • Freshmen: Enjoying longer X-Block, Winterfest, more clubs and activities

  • Sophomores: Fall Festival, Tie dye Event

  • Juniors: Halloween Costume Contest, Fund Raising for Junior Harbor Cruise and Senior Prom

  • Seniors: Flamingo Flock Event, Winter Holiday Gram, and other upcoming fund-raising events

Student mental health continues to be a concern and the student advisory board continues to look for ways to help improve the mental health of students. There was discussion about why students are experiencing stress: workload, grades to get into college, teachers giving too much coursework, no communication between teachers about due dates and test dates, putting pressure on themselves to take lots of AP or accelerated courses or do lots of sports or extracurricular activities, etc.

Enrollment Projections 2024-2038

Anne Gulati presented the most recent 15 year enrollment projections from their demographer, McKibben Demographics in South Carolina. The demographer will speak with the school committee on January 24th to answer questions. Detailed slides can be found in the packet.

  • Enrollment is slowly returning to Pre-Pandemic levels

  • Preschool and elementary school have generally returned Pre-Pandemic levels.

  • Secondary enrollment remains depressed

  • Current enrollment – increase of 47 students 22/23, projected increase of 68 students in 23/24

  • The current 8th grade class is the smallest and was the most impacted by loss of students during the Pandemic.

  • Projection for heavy elementary enrollment growth in the future especially in Mitchell & Sunita Williams districts

Driving Factors for future enrollment:

  • Families leaving the city for the suburbs

  • Anticipated reduction in home costs over the next 15 years

  • Generational turnover expected to occur in the Newman and Broadmeadow districts in the next 10-15 years

There was some discussion about whether these projections were actually a little low based on new homes/duplexes being built, a discrepancy of 2,000 people not being counted in the census, if a recession hits and people have to pull their kids out of private school, MBTA bus and train lines allowing more access to places.

Going forward, McKibben projects that District-wide enrollment will return to Pre-Pandemic levels (of about 5,700 students) more quickly than previously projected by SY 30/31, compared to the prior projection of SY 35/36. This will push against the class size maximums in some buildings.

Superintendent's Budget Request for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024

This is the first of many upcoming discussions about the FY24 Budget Request. The district's strategic priorities help guide the budget. Detailed slides can be found in the packet.

  • Budget is impacted by Covid, Enrollment, Inflation, Wages, Staffing, and Infrastructure

  • Enrollment is slowly increasing – 68 students

  • Needs of students since the Pandemic have also increased, especially in the mental health areas.

  • Teacher to student ratios are lower which has been a goal of the School Committee

  • Special education tuition costs will rise 14% which is a significant and unexpected increase from the state that will have a $1,000,000 impact on the budget

  • The budget increase is primarily due to contract obligations and providing level service to students, including increased staffing to maintain class sizes and provide necessary student services. There is not a significant funding request to provide program improvements.

The next School Committee Meeting will be December 20, 2022 at 6:30pm.


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