LENOX — Enrollment in the town’s public schools is down slightly from last year, but nonresident student totals are holding steady at 39 percent, just below the district’s informal target of no more than 40 percent overall.
Total enrollment, including prekindergarten students, is 729, compared with 746 last year at this time. There are 429 at Lenox Memorial Middle and High (38 percent choice students), 277 (41 percent choice) at Morris Elementary, plus prekindergarten, Superintendent Mark J. Gosselin Jr., reported at a recent School Committee meeting.
He told committee members that the numbers indicate “normal ups and downs,” with some movement in and out of the district reflecting the uncertainties of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Committee member Dr. Christine Mauro lamented that the latest totals don’t reflect a gain in resident enrollment.
“It’s unfortunate to see that we haven’t boosted it,” she said. “In fact, we’ve lost some.”
Gosselin described a “holistic approach” to student wellness as the pandemic lingers, “balancing keeping our students and our staff safe, but also making sure that we’re giving a high-quality education experience.”
He cited the universal mask mandate for everyone inside the district’s buildings and on school transportation adopted before school reopened and pooled testing, required weekly for all staff and strongly recommended for students. Over 98 percent of the staff is vaccinated fully, Gosselin said.
Describing the district’s mission beyond academics, he listed student collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.
He noted elementary school students grouped for class projects and discussions on building community values, as well as visual arts and music programming to encourage creative expression.
At the middle and high school, access to Chromebook technology increases collaboration on projects and presentations, he said. Students are being challenged to engage in analytical thinking, examining topics through various viewpoints, Gosselin added. He also stressed the benefits of athletics and other extracurricular activities for enhancing decision-making, teamwork, time management and self-esteem.
To help launch a career education program, the district has won a $29,000 state Department of Education Pathways Planning Grant.