Watertown Public Schools Growing Faster Than Projected

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Charlie Breitrose

Lowell School in Watertown.

Lowell School in Watertown.

Charlie Breitrose

Lowell School had the biggest enrollment growth from 2014 to 2015.

Watertown’s schools grew slightly over the past year, according to the district’s enrollment report, and were significantly higher than projected. 

The Watertown Public Schools had 35 more students on Oct. 1, 2015 than a year before, with a total of 2,640. The district still is 68 students smaller than two years ago – the highest enrollment over the past five years.

Not all the schools grew, however. Watertown High School has 700 students, seven more than 2014.

The Middle School, however, dropped by 23 to 547 pupils.

At the elementary level, the Cunniff dropped by seven students to 304, while the Lowell went up by 29 to 413 students and the Hosmer increased by 22 to 573. Finally, the Pre-kindergarten program at Hosmer went from 95 to 103 students.

Enrollment Projections

School officials have struggled to predict how many students will be coming to school each fall. This year was no different.

Looking at a projection provided by NESDEC (the New England School Development Council) predicted the district’s enrollment would be 2,575, or 65 fewer than actually showed up. 

Watertown can be harder to predict than other communities because many families move in and out from other towns, other states and other countries each year.

School Committee member John Portz said more work should be done.

“It would be helpful to do more analysis of enrollment changes,” Portz said. “People say we are losing kids when they go from fifth to sixth (grade) and eighth to ninth (grade). When I look at this it is not clear to me.”

Watertown had more students than projected coming into sixth and ninth grades – the beginning of middle and high school respectively. Meanwhile, the number of kindergartners was far less (52) than NESDEC’s projection.

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