GILFORD — Superintendent Ken Hemingway told the School Board last week and the Selectboard last night that an unanticipated jump in the kindergarten enrollment led the district to hire a sixth kindergarten teacher this school year.
Hemingway said this is the first time in 15 years the Gilford School District has seen an increase in enrollment and the kindergarten enrollment of 82 students contrasts with 68 new students last year — a 17-percent increase.
"We had the space because we've seen declining enrollments and the board gave us permission to hire an additional teacher," Hemingway said in a phone interview yesterday.
He also said the cost (about $70,000 including benefits and retirement) must be taken from their existing budget so there is some shifting and pinching in other line items.
In addition, at the September 8 selectman's meeting, Town Planner John Ayer told the board that new residential single-family housing permits went from 11 last year to 24 for this year or an increase of 118-percent. While this is not necessarily indicative of the increase in the number of families with school-age children, it is indicative of a growing economy that could include more young people living in Gilford.
Hemingway also said a "huge" bubble in Gilmanton elementary and middle school populations is working its way toward adding high school students to Gilford's enrollment. He said he expects the ratio of Gilford to Gilmanton students could approach 65-percent Gilford to 35-percent Gilmanton. The high school has traditionally been 70-percent Gilford to 30-percent Gilmanton.
These 82 kindergarteners will, of course, move through the grades at Gilford Elementary, meaning some potential changes could need to be made to teacher assignments as this class moves through the system. Hemingway said it is too soon to know if this is a "bubble" or if it is a continuing trend and it's too early to estimate the size of next year's kindergarten class.
At 82 students, the kindergarten class is the largest class at Gilford Elementary School. This year there are 70 first graders, 68 second graders, 69 third graders and 75 fourth graders. Overall there are 27 more children in the elementary school than there were last year.
At Gilford Middle School there are 14 more students than there were last year and the eighth grade class has 83 students. Added to the 50 students expected to come from Gilmanton next year, this means there could be a freshman class at GHS that numbers around 133 students. This year's freshman class has a 109 students so the district is looking at a potential increase in school year 2016-2017 of 22-percent.
Enrollments at Gilford High School this year are down by 27 students from last year and the senior class will graduate 124 students in June so a projected overall increase in high school population is nine students or from 511 this year to a projected 520 next year.
Total enrollment for Gilford School District is 1,208 students as of opening day. Last year the school had 1,194, in 2013-14 there were 1,201 and in 2012-13 there were 1,230.
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