Have you ever noticed that the same kinds of issues keep cropping up? On a local scale, they could be about school enrollment. Or about resurfacing the town tennis courts. Or purchase of particular properties. It often seems reminiscent of a merry-go-round.
And some particular places keep bobbing to the surface, such as Revson Field, which is calm at the moment.
The politics of school enrollment statistics is interesting. There is a natural sine wave-like oscillation of growth and decline in preschool-age population. It is a complicated story.
Finally, here at the end of the 20-plus years during which I’ve followed this subject, I think I understand.
Doing school enrollment estimates covering the relatively near term is fairly straightforward. The basic idea is that five-year cohorts are advanced from grade to grade, with a small estimated percentage being added to reflect the migration rate, as students move to town. That estimate being based on experience. In other words, all the kindergarten students who will enroll in 2018 are here already, almost.
However, variances in kindergarten enrollment are reflective of trends in the larger world. How is the economy doing? Are higher level jobs plentiful in private industry, at corporations in the New York metropolitan area? Do medical and legal professionals, and those in finance, insurance, and real estate still favor living in rural Weston?
Relevant data can now be easily retrieved for all to see. Thanks to the information super-highway, the cause and effect of private decision making has become clear. Generally speaking, families have children when they can afford to.
The ebb and flow of good economic times is directly related to Weston’s school enrollments.
Things weren’t as clear at the time of the 2001 referendum on school expansion. At that time, some saw even a small slip in the birth rate as a precursor to empty school buildings, while much of the school community and administration only seemed able to envision a straight line projection moving upward forever.
Those were exciting times. Eventually the community agreed that a separate performing arts center at the middle school was beyond Weston’s budget. WestonArts then spearheaded a successful fund-raising effort, and the Weston High School auditorium was gloriously reborn.
And what does the population profile of the town look like these days? Is it flattening out as the baby-boomer generation in town ages in place?
My sine wave hypothesis considers 20-plus years as a “generation,” so we may be due for a turnaround in the next five years! Think about it for a minute.
Now is the time to put in place the details of a plan for the central part of town that will make the future Weston even better than ours is today!
NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com. This week’s guest is Amy Kalafa, award-winning documentary filmmaker, author, and member of Weston’s Lachat Oversight Committee.