EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 2, 2012

Study: N.H. school enrollment dropping


In other states, declining enrollment has prompted some communities to consider combining school districts, Law said.

The Housing Finance Authority study, conducted by Applied Economic Research of Laconia, concludes that demographic factors had a larger impact on school enrollment than housing construction.

The study also took a look at four New Hampshire communities, including Windham.

The Southern New Hampshire town was profiled because it is rapidly growing and located along the heavily traveled Interstate 93 corridor, Law said.

The other communities are Belmont, Milford and Rochester. All four towns are seeing significant growth and are good case studies for an analysis of new construction, she said.

Of the Granite State communities seeing a drop in student enrollment, Windham is an exception, according to Adam Steel, business administrator for Windham and Pelham schools.

Steel said Windham has 152 more students this year than in 2011-2012 — 2,696 compared to 2,544. The district projects enrollment will increase by 100 students by 2013-2014, he said.

The new school and the district’s reputation have attracted more families to Windham, he said.

“Windham is a school system that is very well respected,” he said.

Then, there’s Pelham.

Overcrowding at the town’s schools and the need to upgrade facilities are two reasons why enrollment is decreasing there, Steel said.

Pelham has 12 fewer students than last year — 2,057 compared to 2,069 — and is projected to lose 44 more by 2013-2014, he said.

“It’s a very well-known issue that Pelham is still trying to mitigate its space needs issues,” Steel said.

Londonderry school Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said his district is also seeing declining enrollment.

“Our enrollment is dropping and has been dropping the last few years,” he said.

The district has 4,635 students compared to 5,165 two years ago, Greenberg said. That figure is projected to drop to 4,456 by next year, he said.

Unlike Salem, there is no need to reconsider any renovation plans, he said. The drop in enrollment has benefited Londonderry, where overcrowding was a problem, he said.

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