Derry School Board Goes Over Enrollment Numbers

By Alex Malm

DERRY – The Derry School Board held its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 31, and one of the agenda items that was to to get an enrollment update for the school district.
Derry Superintendent MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian explained that there were a number of different grade levels at the different schools they are keeping an eye on for enrolment due to it being so high, and in some cases being close to the recommended maximum number. In other cases some class sizes are at the recommended limit or above.
For example at Grinnell Elementary School the enrollment at the time of the meeting for kindergarten was 18 students for each of the three kindergarten classes, which is the maximum amount recommended by the School Board.
For any schools that have the maximum number of students in their kindergarten classes they are sending students to Derry VIllage Elementary School which is the overflow school for kindergarten currently.
At Derry Village they had two kindergarten classes of 18 students, one class with 16 students and one with 15.
Another example is Grinnell’s fifth grade which currently has two sections of 25 students, which is the maximum recommended number for that grade level per class.
“They’ve remained very stable with that number,” Connors-Krikorian said.
At South Range Elementary School they currently have three kindergarten classes with 18 students each in it, and have two fourth grade classes with 27 students in it, which is above the recommended number per class.
For the middle schools she said that the current enrollment at Gilbert H. Hood is at 555 students and for West Running Brook the enrollment is at 556 students.
Derry School Board Chair Erika Cohen asked if historically when they start the school year with a large number of students per class if they usually lose students as the year goes on or if they generally stay the same.
Connors-Krikorian said they could look at the historical trends prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that generally they don’t have a large increase or decrease after school starts.
Cohen said that with more people wanting to move to Derry they are going to continue to follow the enrolment numbers.
“I think this is definitely something we need to keep a close eye on,” she said.
Also during the meeting the Board accepted a donation from the Derry Village Rotary Club.
Connors-Krikorian explained that any donation given to the school district for over $500 needs to be formally approved by the School Board.
The donation made by the Rotary Club was for $1,000.
“We are extremely appreciative of any donations that the school district receives,” she said.
Connors-Krikorian said that the donation would be used to purchase library books which would be stored at her office.
She said that when Rotary has a guest speaker at one of their meetings they will sign it and return it to the District and it will then be donated to one of the school district’s libraries.
“This is a great program and one that we certainly endorse and certainly appreciate,” she said.
Cohen said that they were thankful for the donation.
“We thank the rotary club for their generous donation,” she said.
In personnel news the School Board approved a number of different hirings for various positions. It included Renee Arruda, as a school nurse, for Derry Village Elementary School, Susan Burns, special education facilitator, for Derry Village Elementary School, Heather Gallant, a music teacher, at South Range Elementary School, Kelsey Hurrell a school counselor, at South Range Elementary School, and Carly Lynch a school counselor at Grinnell Elementary School. They also approved the hiring of Melissa Nickerson, a teacher at the Derry Early Education Program, and Michele Stoway a teacher at the Derry Early Education Program.
The next Derry School Board meeting is slated for Sept. 14.