Enrollment Growth

Arlington’s public school system has experienced steady enrollment growth since the early 2000s. The student population in the Arlington Public Schools has increased by more than 20% since 2005. Enrollment is expected to continue to rise steadily, for a cumulative increase of around 40%—more than 1,700 students—in the twenty-year period from fall 2005 to fall 2025.* Our already overcrowded school buildings are struggling today to meet the current enrollment level. To address these challenges, the town formed the School Enrollment Task Force in November 2015 to discuss possible solutions.  

Based on the task force’s recommendations, Arlington’s Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to place debt exclusion questions before voters in spring of 2016. Arlington voters overwhelmingly approved funding an addition at the Thompson Elementary School, a renovation of the former Gibbs School to increase capacity for middle school students, and a feasibility study for the rebuild of Arlington High School. They also voted to fund Arlington’s share to build a new Minuteman Technical High School and reaffirmed their support for the debt exclusion for Minuteman in a subsequent special election in September 2016.

These projects will address much of our system’s enrollment growth, but our work is not yet done. The town must address growth at the Hardy Elementary School soon. The School Enrollment Task Force has recommended building a six-classroom addition to open in fall 2018. It looks as though the town will be able to pay for this addition without another debt exclusion, but final details are still being discussed. It will also be important to watch the numbers at our other schools closely. The rebuild or renovation of Arlington High School—with significant funding and support from the Massachusetts School Building Authority— is also on the horizon.The feasibility study for the project will begin soon.

*2005-2006 enrollment numbers are from the Department of Education. According to the DOE, they include students who are placed out of district. Forecasts for 2025-2025 are taken from the September 2016 McKibben report. Enrollment for 2016 is as of October 14, from the Arlington School Department. Please note that DOE and forecast numbers include Menotomy Preschool students, but the October numbers do not. Since our estimate is rough and preschool numbers are not affected by enrollment growth, this makes a minimal difference.