G-M schools have higher enrollment

  • Sign for Gill Elementary School. recorder file photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/15/2017 9:10:59 AM

TURNERS FALLS — The Gill-Montague Regional School District has an increase in enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year.

Superintendent Michael Sullivan said they are at 984 students total, which is an increase of 33 from last spring’s 2016-2017 enrollment.

Last year, the district had 951 total students enrolled, and the previous year they had 947. From 2012 to 2015 the district hovered around 1,000 students.

This year’s numbers buck larger trends with public school enrollment in the Franklin County region, where schools have seen ongoing concerns as students charter and choice out of districts.

While numbers aren’t yet available for this year, last school year, Pioneer Valley Regional School has to cut staff ahead because of a 25 percent drop in enrollment over the past eight years.

At a meeting last year addressing declining enrollment in rural districts, Mohawk/Hawlemont Superintendent of Schools Michael Buoniconti said 66 of the state’s 94 rural districts have seen declining enrollment over the past 20 years, with school systems from western Massachusetts losing 39 to 57 percent of their student populations during these decades. And, compared to the state’s most populous school districts — Boston, which is 48 square miles, or Springfield, 32 square miles — Mohawk, with less than 1,000 students, covers 253 square miles, and the Franklin County Technical School covers 566 square miles.

As for Gill-Montague, while an increase is good news, the district continues to meet with members of local governments in discussions to address long-term financial issues in the district. The district had to cut an average of six jobs over the past four years to balance the budget, and administrators in the district are concerned that if that pattern continues, there will be serious loses to students services, classes and programs.

The news, which was shared with the School Committee during Tuesday night’s meeting, was well received.

“This, of course, is a trend we’d like to see continue,” Sullivan said.


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