10% Of Students (350) Have Left Wilmington Public Schools Since July 1, District’s State Education Funding Could Take Big Hit

WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Wilmington School Committee Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand provided an update on the district’s enrollment data.

In a significant development, Brand announced that 350 students — approximately 10.76% of the student population — have left the district between July 1, 2020 and October 8, 2020:

  • 146 students left for private schools
  • 71 students left for Shawsheen Tech (similar number to recent years)
  • 64 students left for homeschooling
  • 60 students transferred to other schools (most moved out-of-town)
  • 9 students withdrew with unknown plans

Overall, Wilmington’s student enrollment decreased by 264, from 3,166 (2019) to 2,902 (2020). Enrollment had been naturally declining in recent years, but not at this pace. Between 2018 and 2019, for example, enrollment only fell by 35 students.

“Our homeschool numbers are up. So too are our private school numbers,” said Brand. “Comparative data will show that our enrollment numbers are down and down more than we were anticipating.”

Brand suggested that this is a trend that many other public school districts in Massachusetts are facing due to COVID-19.

Wilmington’s enrollment data has yet to be certified by the Massachusetts Department of Secondary & Elementary Education this year, but Brand believes the projected figures are accurate. The School Committee will be provided with a final enrollment report once certified, as well as additional comparison measures to previous years.

Budgetary Concerns For NEXT School Year Due To Enrollment Drop

“Given that our state Chapter 70 educational funding is based on the previous year’s enrollment as of October 1, how much Chapter 70 aid are we expected to lose next year due to a decrease in this year’s enrollment?,” asked School Committee Vice Chair David Ragsdale.

“I haven’t calculated that yet,” responded Assistant Superintendent Paul Ruggiero. “Many districts are running into this same issue. If we go by these numbers, we would see a pretty big hit to Chapter 70. We’re down 350 kids ballpark. And then how many kids will come back next year? I hope the state will hold us harmless for a year.”

“A lot of these students will be back next year when regular in-person school returns,” agreed Ragsdale. “And that’s the question we have to think about when projecting the budget.”

“When we get to budgetary planning next year, which won’t be too far down the road, this will become tricky as we make assumptions about next year,” echoed Brand.

“Next year, if we aren’t held harmless, we could potentially have many of these students come back to the district, but we’re only given money from the state based on this year’s October 1 enrollment figures,” emphasized School Committee Chair Jennifer Bryson. “I hope Mr. Ruggiero’s wish for districts to be held harmless comes true.”


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