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Julia Perkins | Sep. 10, 2021
Danbury’s school enrollment could surpass 12,000 students as high school sees ‘crowded’ hallways
DANBURY — Enrollment at the public schools could be the highest ever this year.
As of Wednesday, 11,711 students were enrolled in the district, but that figure is expected to surpass 12,000 students.
“Danbury remains popular amongst families seeking a place to live in Connecticut,” Superintendent Kevin Walston said at Wednesday’s school board meeting.
The paperwork for 327 students is pending, while administrators anticipate another 100 students to enroll in the next couple weeks, he said.
“Of course, we may continue to receive families,” Walston said. “We always continue to get another rush of students in January and February.”
Enrollment was 11,660 as of Oct. 1 of last year. That was lower than the previous year, when more than 11,900 students attended the schools. That downturn attributed to COVID-19’s effect on immigration trends, in addition to parents keeping their children out of school during the pandemic.
Danbury is adding classrooms to Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School and plans to construct a career academy for middle and high school students due to the influx of children.
Enrollment could reach a peak of about 12,425 students in 2024-25, according to the most recent high-model projections from a demographer. The low-model projections reach a peak in 2023-24 with about 12,260 students.
Rising enrollment has sparked concerns about overcrowding in the schools, especially as COVID-19 has meant students shouldn’t be crammed together.
Crowded hallways at Danbury High School were cited at Wednesday’s meeting.
“It's very crowded, normally,” Principal Dan Donovan said. “But I can tell you, this being my sixth year in this building, it’s not more or any less than the start of any school year.”
Part of the problem is that new students need to learn the best direction to walk in the hallways.
“Every year when we come in, we have to teach probably about 850 freshmen how to walk in the hallways and where to go,” he said.
Some sophomores who were on remote learning last year are new to the building, too, while some juniors were only in the freshman academy wing until March of 2020.
The school has set up one-way hallways and directional changes, with staff in hallways pointing out which ways students should go, Donovan said. Staff are monitoring congestion points through cameras, he said.
If congestion doesn’t die down within a week or so, the school may consider dismissing students at different times, he said.
“It is crowded,” Donovan said. “We’re well aware of it, and we’re going to monitor it closely.”