BEDFORD — School officials say that districtwide, student enrollment within the Bedford school system is down slightly this year, but will likely increase as the school year progresses.
Last year, the district had 4,525 students enrolled. As of Sept. 1, Bedford had a total of 4,434 students attending classes throughout its six schools.
“Overall, enrollments are lower at this juncture than they were last year,” said Superintendent Mike Fournier, adding there is a decrease of 91 students in the district.
Bedford High School currently has 1,511 students enrolled compared to last year’s number of 1,532. The high school first topped 1,500 students in the 2016-2017 school year, and has remained above that number since; in 2007-2008, the local high school had 1,032 students enrolled.
“As you know, as the year moves on we tend to grow a bit,” Fournier warned school officials.
At the high school, there are now 356 freshmen, 392 sophomores, 388 juniors and 375 seniors.
According to preliminary enrollment projections provided to the school board, which are unweighted projections, enrollment at the high school is expected to decrease slightly throughout the next three years, with a total of 1,499 students in 2020-201, 1,484 students in 2021-2022 and 1,429 students in 2022-2023.
This year, student enrollment at the elementary level dropped slightly from a combined 1,551 students to 1,488 students.
Fournier admits that it is often difficult to predict elementary enrollment figures, specifically for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.
McKelvie Intermediate School is also experiencing a slight decrease from 712 students to 688 students.
Lurgio Middle School is the only school in the district to see higher enrollment numbers this year — increasing from 730 students to 747 students. Those numbers at Lurgio, however, are expected to drop in the next two years, according to the preliminary projection data.
Fournier said the district had actually predicted an overall increase in student enrollment of about 103 students this year, as opposed to the actual decrease of 91 students districtwide.
Typically, the district does not lose students midway throughout the year, but it will likely gain additional students as more families move into town, according to Fournier.
“Historically, they call it the ‘Bedford effect,’” he said.
Administrators will keep a close eye on student enrollment in the upcoming months as they work to prepare the upcoming budget, added the superintendent.