By Mike Zummo
A demographic study commissioned by the Vernon Township School District Board of Education shows the district could possibly lose up to 466 students by the 2023-24 school year.
The report, filed by Richard S. Grip and dated June 2019, projects the Vernon Township School District could have as few as 2,516 students by the end of 2023-24.
The district had an enrollment of 2,982 during the 2018-19 school year.
However, there was a discrepancy in the report, which indicated the district can expect a kindergarten enrollment of about 162-167, but as of the Aug. 8 Board of Education meeting, there had been 221 registrants for kindergarten.
“When I said we had 221, he paused for about 5 seconds,” Board of Education President Brad Sparta said of a phone conversation he had with Grip. “he doesn’t know why that difference is existing. He’s working in four or five other districts in the county and he does not see that happening elsewhere.”
Grip creates his study using reports the district provides to the state Department of Education, while also looking at births and home sales in the district.
Board of Education member Kelly Mitchell, a realtor, said she is expecting an uptick in kindergarten students in Vernon as opposed to other county districts.
“We have the most affordable housing,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay said if the kindergarten numbers hold when school starts in September, that might create a sense of equilibrium in the district.
“Once that happens, there might be some equilibrium in the district,” he said. “Once that happens, it will make it much easier to see what will happen year after year. The next couple of years will be very big.”
Grip had previously done the same study for the Vernon Township School District in 2013, projecting the district’s enrollment through the 2018-19 school year. Over the course, of his study, his projection was never more than
The district will submit the actual kindergarten numbers, which are expected to hold, in September once school starts.
District Business Manager Steve Kepnes said Grip uses a formula to come up with his projections.
“When we give him the new number, he will plug it into the formula,” he said.
“If your first-grade numbers aren’t an anomaly, we should be prepared that maybe that loss isn’t 400 students,” school board member Natalie Buccieri said.