The Derry Cooperative School District may need to shuffle a few positions in order to cope with a larger-than-recommended number of students in the early elementary grades.
At the Aug. 16 School Board meeting, Superintendent Laura Nelson gave a real-time enrollment report, her next to last before the Kindergarten-Grade 8 district opens Aug. 31.
Kindergarten enrollment is as follows:
• Derry Village Elementary School, one morning kindergarten full, one afternoon with nine open slots, two full-day classrooms with two slots each;
• Ernest P. Barka Elementary School, one morning and one afternoon kindergarten, both full with 18 students, two full-day classrooms, also full;
• East Derry Memorial Elementary School, one morning and one afternoon session, both full, and two full-day classrooms, also full;
• Grinnell Elementary School, one morning and one afternoon session, both full, and one full-day classroom with 14 students; and
• South Range Elementary School, one morning session with 10 students, one afternoon session with nine students and one full-day with 14.
Nelson noted, “Four of our schools have full morning kindergartens and three have full afternoon kindergartens.”
She reminded the board that Derry Village is the first “overflow” school and will take students for whom there is no room in their neighborhood schools. When Derry Village is full, South Range will take the remaining overflow, she said. They can also be put on a “wait list” for their home schools.
When a slot in the neighborhood school opens up, parents have the option of moving their child back from Derry Village or South Range, or letting them complete the school year, Nelson said.
Barka also has a burgeoning second grade, with three sections anticipating 23 students and a fourth section with 24. She reminded the board that the district’s policy for first and second grades is to “strive for” no more than 20 students in a classroom.
East Derry has three sections of second grade, with two classrooms of 21 students and one with 22, she said.
“No other classrooms are above the ‘strive for’ numbers at this time,” Nelson said.
But some are low, with East Derry’s four first-grade classes at 16, 16, 15 and 14 respectively.
The two middle schools anticipate 525 students at West Running Brook and 654 at Gilbert H. Hood, she said.
The total anticipated number for the schools is Derry Village, 445; Barka, 559; East Derry, 403; Grinnell, 380; and South Range, 318.
Board member Erika Cohen asked, given the low numbers for East Derry’s first grade, if the district has the ability to move a teacher to Barka’s second grade.
“We can do things like that, as long as we do it before school starts,” Nelson told her. Another technique to cope is creating a multi-grade classroom, she said. “That would free a teacher to move,” she said.
Board member Brenda Willis observed that the final tally is still an unknown. Grinnell and Derry Village, which draw from large apartment complexes, have been known to get influxes of students even after Labor Day.
Nelson said some children have moved, but the district doesn’t know that until their new district requests their records. “They are often marked as absent,” she said.
Because of these factors, the Oct. 1 enrollment is the most accurate, Nelson said.
She said she would give an updated enrollment report in the Aug. 30 meeting.