HomeE/M SentinelE/M Sentinel NewsAlready overcrowded, Edison schools face more glaring capacity problems in the next...

Already overcrowded, Edison schools face more glaring capacity problems in the next five years

EDISON – In five years, the Edison Township Public Schools will face even more glaring capacity problems, according to George Sundell, who presented the district’s demographic/enrollment projection study.

“The biggest capacity problems will be at [James] Madison Intermediate, [John] Marshall, and Lincoln [elementary schools],” he said.

Sundell, principal demographer of Sundance Associates, based in Cherry Hill, presented the findings of the study to the Board of Education on Jan. 23.

“This is my fifth or sixth projection [for the district conducted] over the last 20 years,” he said, noting he has conducted the studies every four to five years.

The student population will increase 510 students from the current enrollment of 16,318 as of October 2018 to 16,828 students in 2023, Sundell said, noting the projected numbers are give or take plus or minus 1 percent.

The Edison Township School District has 19 school buildings – two early education centers, 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools.

Sundell said he looked at birth rates, housing history and future residential permits for the study. For the current demographic study, Sundell said he took into consideration the Rivendell housing complex, which is expected to have 205 market rate and affordable housing units and bring in 72 school children.

He said they expect 62 of the 72 school children generated at Rivendell to attend public schools. The children will attend the Marshall Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Edison High School route.

Sundell said the elementary school level is the only level expected to decrease in the next five years from the current 7,830 students in 2018 to 7,297 students in 2023.

He said all schools are already at capacity and stretching the limits. Two elementary schools are reaching 1,000 students. Woodbrook Elementary currently has 978 students and Lincoln is close behind with 906 students.

The current enrollment at the other elementary schools include Menlo Park with 867 students; Marshall with 833 students; Martin Luther King with 687 students; Madison Intermediate with 669 students; Benjamin Franklin with 605 students; Washington with 588 students; Madison Primary with 521 students; Monroe with 520 students; and Lindeneau with 436 students.

The middle school level will increase from the current 3,942 students in 2018 to 4,241 students in 2023.

Woodrow Wilson Middle School currently has the most enrolled students with 1,271, followed by James Adams with 961 students, Hoover with 914 students and Jefferson with 796 students.

Sundell said Hoover is over capacity by 120 students, Adams is very large with more than 400 students over capacity, Jefferson is over capacity by 240 students, and despite Wilson losing 17 students, it is still over capacity by 530 students.

“[The enrollment numbers] are way out of whack already to date,” he said. “Despite the loss, it will still be largest efficiency in terms of students.”

The high school level will increase from the current 4,548 students to 5,290 students in 2023, according to the study. Edison High School currently has an enrollment of 2,028 students and will gain 247 students in five years, and John P. Stevens High School currently has an enrollment of 2,517 students and will gain 487 students in five years.

Interim Schools Superintendent Paul Saxton asked Sundell if he took into consideration any housing trends in his study. He said he hasn’t been in the district for a long time; however, he has noticed turnover in housing units are producing school children, where originally a units are producing two to three children, the turnover has increased the number of children to seven and eight.

Sundell said he uses average numbers in his method, which he said is recognized by the state. He said he usually takes developer projections of school children with a grain of salt.

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