Oct. 14—ANDOVER — The town has about 100 fewer students in its public schools this year as the district continues to see a multi-year decline.
District officials recently reviewed the Oct. 1 enrollment numbers with the School Committee to give an outlook for the budgeting cycle to come. There are 5,467 students in Andover schools down from 5,577 last year, according to the recently released numbers.
"If that number holds, our Chapter 70 money is going to be quite abysmal," said member Shannon Scully, referring to state aid for schools that is partially based on enrollment. "This is an early preview of what our budget season might look like this year."
Andover receives the lowest amount of Chapter 70 money per student because of high income levels. Last year the district received about $11.6 million in state aid, which was only about 17% of the district's budget.
Typically enrollment increases throughout the year as more families move into town, said Superintendent Magda Parvey. That's especially true at Shawsheen Preschool where students will grow into school age throughout the year, she said.
Currently there are 79 preschoolers starting the year off when there were only 55 enrolled on Oct. 1, 2020, according to the data. That number is only likely to grow, she said.
Even so, enrollment is likely to continue to decline in coming years, said Director of Data Hannah Tolla.
The birth rate in Andover is below the replacement rate, and it's expected that the aging population will stay in their homes and there will be more empty nesters in the coming years, Tolla said.
The declining enrollment in the district also brings the question: What will happen to the plans for Andover High School to be renovated? For years town officials have asked the state to help fund renovating the high school because of overcrowding.
In 2019 there were 1,800 students and now there are 1,681, according to the school's data.
"It's a natural odd way to increase capacity," Scully said.