Student Enrollment Grows to Nearly 7,000

West Orange adds 131 students to its schools this year, and registration is still open.


There are nearly 7,000 students attending West Orange schools and that number continues to grow. 

The district increased its student roster by 131 compared to last year, said Board President Laura Lab at the Board of Education meeting in Hazel Elementary School on Monday. Registration is ongoing until the middle of October, and official numbers will not be known until then.   

“Population ebbs and flows,” said Lab. “[The increase] is not an aberration,” noting that the student enrollment has been increasing steadily for years. 

The district has registered 434 new students in grades one through 12, and 458 new kindergarten students. The student population in the district is now 6,930, according to the board. 

Student population in the district has also grown every year since 2005 except one -- the 2010-11 school year, according to a district demography report last year.

In addition, this year’s incoming class is already higher than was anticipated by that report. The report projected 6,727 students to be enrolled in the 2012-13 school year, and did not predict enrollment to surpass 6,900 for at least two more years. 

Although student population is growing, Interim Superintendent James O’Neill said he “does not expect there to be any dramatic growth in the future.” He added that student populations throughout the country have been decreasing overall, and West Orange will catch up to that trend.

Many of the newly registered students, Lab warned, were those who reregistered from the previous year, but she could not give more specific estimates at this time. In addition, the board was unable to clearly define in what schools or neighborhoods these increases were prominent. 

One of the options for handling the increase in student population is redistricting, said Lab. 

“I don’t see a new school popping up in the very near future,” said Lab. “... There is a long-term plan [for redistricting].” 

The board indicated that redistricting will be discussed during upcoming board meetings. 

Brett Kaiser September 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM
>> “I don’t see a new school popping up in the very near future,” said Lab. “... There is a long-term plan [for redistricting].” Too bad we can't get the schools back the WOBOE sold for a song in the past....I feel real warm and fuzzy with the current administration being involved in a plan to "Redistrict". I would hope for a LOT of transparency on THAT issue. And well all know that's NOT Gonna happen.
Tom G. September 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Redistricting will be a nightmare for everyone if the BOE decides to go forward with that. I have talked to people in my neighborhood that moved there specifically so their kids could go to Redwood school, based on Redwood's good reputation. One person mentioned he would have a major concern if his kid had to go to Washington.
Gary Englert September 26, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Tom G. & Brett Kaiser: This is nothing new that hasn't been done before and all much ado about nothing as Gregory and Redwood are the highest capacity grade schools while Hazel and Washington are the lowest. Ergo, if a grade school redistricting becomes necessary, students will be shifted students to those schools, not away from them...with the intent of spending as little as possible to transport them. When and if push comes to shove, it'll all come down to a question of math (how many students) and physics (how much space), both of which are fairly transparent sciences.
Adam Kraemer September 28, 2012 at 02:34 AM
All the public school buildings are close to capacity. None of the eleven school buildings has significant extra space to receive a significant number of additional students. Hazel and Washington have little room as they are very old building with small classroom so they can't fit many more students into those small classrooms. Thus, redistricting will do little to fix this problem. Moving students from one crowded school to an other crowded school is not a real solution. The district is at about 7,000 students now in school year 2012-2013 and could easily be at 8,000 students in school year 2017-2018 just five years from now. The options are to partner with charter schools, take on leased space for schools, build a new school or two, or add more classrooms on to our existing schools. Building schools or new classroom space is the expensive way to go and tax base of the town would not easily support this. All options need to be on the table to address this issue of school crowding.


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