, Derry, New Hampshire

October 10, 2013

School Board gets enrollment projections

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Business is booming in town for some developers and housing plans, but that also means the school district will need to make sure it has enough space for new students coming to town.

School district business administrator Peter Curro gave School Board members an early look at what might happen when new developments come on line, and new families and their children move into the community.

Curro offered a look at current residential projects that could very well be completed in the next five years. That could also mean an additional 500 new students.

He cited several developments that have the potential for a large population number at buildout, including Mill Pond Brook Hollow with 100 planned units; Lorden Commons, 133 units; and Wallace Farm with a potential of 240 housing units.

Add in the massive Woodmont Commons project also offering large residential areas and it could mean a significant stress on the school’s buildings and facilities in the future, Curro said.

He said it was time to start thinking ahead.

“You have to start, by getting the ball rolling,” he said. “These are coming, maybe not in this budget cycle, but maybe by the next cycle, (it’s time) to start preparing what to do. It’s not only ‘when’ but ‘what age.’”

It can be tricky to predict what the age of students who might be moving into these developments, superintendent Nate Greenberg said, although sometimes it can be done based on the home’s value.

“What we started to see lately is at the price points now, we are pulling in elementary students,” Greenberg said. “If I were to take a guess, my guess would be close to a majority of kids will probably be at the elementary level.”

Board member John Robinson asked about the impact fee situation when it comes to new development and how that might support the school system. Right now, the impact fee structure is suspended, but the Planning Board recently approved an updated ordinance that will go before the Town Council.

Curro said it’s not too early to begin the discussion on what might happen and ways to make the district successful for dealing with growing enrollment.

“There are a myriad of possibilities,” he said. “New buildings, add a building, redistricting, moving a grade. These are all possible solutions, scenarios. We thought best we tell you about it. Now is the time to start thinking about what path to take to make sure we have the capacity when we get these new students.”