Lewiston schools: Enrollment finally flat

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Young students in a crowded Montello Elementary School cafeteria in 2015. This year’s enrollment is up only 25 students, a slowdown in enrollment growth. Still, there are more students at the elementary schools and Lewiston Middle School.

LEWISTON — For the first time in years, Lewiston Public Schools are seeing a slowdown in enrollment growth, according to early student population figures given Monday night to the Lewiston School Committee.

As of Sept. 20, this year’s enrollment is 5,527, up 25 students from last year’s 5,502.

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Having only 25 more students enrolled is a change in growth from recent years, in which enrollment had jumped 100 students or more each year. 

And it’s a far cry from two years ago, when Lewiston’s schools received an unexpected surge of 270 new students, which meant congested classrooms, halls, libraries, buses, gyms and cafeteria. Since then, a number of new classrooms have been created to address the overcrowding issue. 

This year’s enrollment number is comparable to that of last year, a manageable level, said Superintendent Bill Webster. The numbers bode well for the new elementary school being built, which will open in 2019.

Contributing to curtailing Lewiston’s enrollment growth is the new public charter elementary school, Acadia Academy, which opened in September 2016. This year, that school has 100 students from Lewiston, Webster said.

The number of Lewiston Public School’s kindergarten students this fall is 434, down from 470 two years ago, Webster said.

“Even if the incoming pipeline is coming down a bit, we still have this higher plateau (larger classes) coming through which will increase pressure on the high school,” he said.

The number of elementary and middle school students is still growing, filling schools.

Last year, there were 3,200 prekindergarten to grade six students in Lewiston; this year, there are 3,232. Kindergarten class sizes in the city’s six elementary schools are 20 and under. The larger class sizes are at Geiger, with 24 students in grades five and six; and Martel, which has 28 students in the two fifth-grade classes.

The largest elementary school is Montello with 724 students. Other enrollment numbers are: Geiger, 703; McMahon, 654; Farwell, 433; Longley, 401; and Martel, 302.

At the Lewiston Middle School this year there are 775 students, up from last year’s 731.

The number of high school students is 1,416, down from last year’s 1,460.

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