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Frontier numbers dip: Student enrollment decreased by 101 students in 5 years

DEERFIELD — Over the past five years, the student population at Frontier Regional School has declined by 101 students.

The decrease in students has been one debate point among the four Frontier feeder towns — Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately — and the School Committee as they consider the $9,545,088 school budget for next year.

Town officials have repeatedly questioned why student enrollment as decreased while the school budget has increased. The proposed budget is a 4.92 percent increase from the current year.

The total student enrollment for 2012 was 607 students — 492 residents and 115 School Choice students.

It is the residential student population that has dropped 101 students while the School Choice student population has remained at the same level.

Based on the five-year enrollment average from 2008 to 2012, the biggest loss of residential students is from Sunderland. Frontier has lost 50 Sunderland residents from 2008 to 2012. Students from Whately have also decreased by 38. The population of students from Conway has remained steady at 72 with a loss of only two students in the past five years. And there are 11 fewer students from Deerfield at Frontier since 2008.

If the 2007 school year is included, there is a 134 drop in residential students.

School Choice students help support the budget. The district receives $5,000 from the state for every School Choice student, which amounts to a total of $575,000 for last year.

The fact that school choice students keep choosing Frontier for school is a sign to the School Committee that the school is doing well.

“Everyone has lost native population,” said Superintendent Regina Nash recently. “We’ve been fortunate to keep School Choice students all along.”

Deerfield Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness, on Thursday, said she did not want the school to rely on the School Choice money. Many School Choice students come from Greenfield and Turners Falls. With Greenfield Public Schools building a new high school, fewer Greenfield students may choose Frontier as an alternative.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268

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