A surge in kindergarteners?

After staying home last year, should we expect surging enrollment at our schools? Straus News dug in to the numbers. To see how your local school district’s numbers have changed over the past few years, visit the charts below.

| 07 Oct 2021 | 03:04

Many parents across the country kept their potential kindergarteners home last year; reports were to expect a wave of kindergarteners starting school this fall. _Straus News looked at the local numbers and spoke with school officials about what’s happening with enrollment in our area.

Most schools saw a jump

Sparta, Vernon Township, Green Township and Newton a each saw a large jump in district-wide and kindergarten enrollment. In fact, Newton is currently seeing its biggest kindergarten class in years, with 95 students enrolled, as opposed to 65 in their 2016-2017 school year.

Sparta is also taking in its largest kindergartener class in years, and saw its largest enrollment district-wide, with a jump of 333 students from last year.

Hampton and Hardyston Township schools are both seeing an increase of kindergarteners, but a decrease in total enrollment. Hardyston is observing a large jump from its small kindergarten class of 48 students last year, to a class of 70 this fall.

Lafayette Township and Sussex-Wantage Regional saw a spike in total enrollment, but a decrease in their kindergartener class. Sussex-Wantage saw the biggest enrollment number spike in years, with 100 more students enrolled district-wide from last year.

“It was hard to tell since last year was so crazy, but you’re definitely going to see an influx everywhere, with the housing market the way it is, and people moving into Sussex County,” said a business administrator from Lafayette Township School District. “Some are enrolling their kids here at the last second. It’s nice, but it’s definitely been interesting.”

High schools around the area, like Wallkill Valley and Kittatinny Regional are also seeing some changes in district-wide enrollment numbers this year—but in different ways. Wallkill Valley saw a jump upwards of around 25 students from last fall, and Kittatinny had a downwards drop of 25 students.

Schools that didn’t see a change

Some schools saw little change in enrollment year to year.

Stanhope, Byram, and Andover school districts kindergarten numbers actually went down.

Kim Kulesa, secretary at Byram school district, said that they saw a lot of last minute kindergarten enrollment this year, with no clue as to why.

“It’s just my personal opinion, but I know a lot of people are moving into town, but that’s the only reason I could think of,” said Kulesa.

So, what does this mean?

It’s difficult to determine trends in the beginning of the school year, when enrollment can fluctuate daily. This leaves room for speculation, and we may or may not be witnessing a wave of kindergarteners starting at school.

Click through the slides below to see how your district’s enrollment has changed:

Graphics by Michael Guillen.
Data: Fall 2021 numbers are provisional. Dotted line indicated data not available. Sources: nj.gov/education/doedata and interviews with local school officials.