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.