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October 5, 2012

Schools show drop in numbers

But O'Maley gains 21 students, mostly from charter

While enrollment in Gloucester public schools continued declining this year, an increase in students attending O’Maley Middle School kept the slip to a minimum.

Overall, 3,027 pre-kindergartners to 12th-graders attend Gloucester’s public schools, down 64 schoolchildren from last year. Enrollment dropped across all eight schools, save Beeman and O’Maley. Superintendent Richard Safier said O’Maley’s designation as an “Innovation School” might have something to do with that.

Thirty-two students have joined the district through school choice. The district did not release data for students who left the district through school choice. Safier said the state would have a full tally of that in roughly three weeks.

“We don’t have numbers on who choiced out until the October reports are processed by the department,” Safier.

J.C. Considine, spokesman for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said the state will have that data in mid-November.

While the school district’s enrollment fell this year, the drop is less steep than in previous years. From the 2010-2011 school year to the 2011-2012 school year, district enrollment fell from 3,202 students to 3,091 students. Much of that decline came from O’Maley and Gloucester High School, which shed 58 and 51 students, respectively, that year.

Safier said he hasn’t conducted a full analysis of the enrollment numbers. This year, though, broke the trend of steeper decline of the last few years.

O’Maley’s enrollment this year reverses that trend, with 21 students joining classes.

O’Maley, aside from one additional pupil at Beeman Elementary, was the only school in the district to add students this year. Enrollment at the middle school rose from 644 students to 665; the rise coincides with the school’s first year as a state-recognized “Innovation School.”

“The staff is very excited about this particular school year,” Safier said, “I’m hoping that’s kind of contagious.”

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