Cape area school districts lost 318 students, overall, in this year's enrollment figures - a loss of 1.28%.
Cape school enrollment has fallen 22.64% since Fiscal 2001 - from 31,740 in the fall of 2000 to 24,553 today.
Mashpee and Monomoy
The two districts with the deepest losses this year are Mashpee and Monomoy. Mashpee lost 7.92% of its students, dropping from 1,629 students in Fiscal 2016 to exactly 1,500 students this year. Monomoy suffered a loss of 3.47%, dropping from 1,931 to 1,864.
Mashpee took a double hit last year with instability caused by the controversial departure of former superintendent Brian Hyde and continuing problems making MCAS standards at the Mashpee Middle School. Monomoy continues to lose school choice students to Nauset and to the area's two charter schools.
Both districts also have students leaving to attend Cape Cod Tech.
The Nauset region - the Cape's school choice powerhouse - may be showing some cracks, as its enrollment dropped by 2.79% - from 1,506 to 1,464.
Provincetown and Eastham saw strong percentage growth, which isn't difficult to do in a district with 129 or 182 students, respectively. Barnstable held its own, adding 34 new students. Both Cape Cod Tech and Upper Cape Tech grew at around 1%. Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter grew by 1.25%.
Bourne surprised with a growth of 9 students. Bourne has faced serious challenges at the high school level as large numbers of its eighth graders have decamped to Upper Cape Tech.
Long Term Results
Both charter schools show enormous growth over the past 15 years. Sturgis grew 302% - from 200 students in 2001 to 804 students this year. Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter grew 42% from 171 students to 243 students today.
School districts hardest hit since 2001 are:
Significantly, both of the Cape's vocational technical high schools have done well compared to their 2001 numbers. Cape Tech in Harwich enrolled 625 students in 2001 and holds 623 today. Cape Tech is operating at capacity, as evidenced by their current proposal to replace their 40 year old facility. Upper Cape Tech grew by 19.76% from 2001 to 2017, with a current enrollment of 709 versus 592 back in 2001.
Interest in the tech schools is perhaps the highest it has ever been. Last fall Cape Tech held "tech night" to showcase their programs to prospective students. Over 500 people attended.
The two "tech schools" and the two existing Charters will continue operating at capacity, with waiting lists, well into the future. Expect Nauset to fight harder for "choice" students with their soon-to-launch International Baccalaureate program.
Dennis-Yarmouth and Monomoy continue to lose students, both due to a declining population of young families and perceived deficiencies in both districts. The independent elementary districts within the Nauset region continue to wither, with all but Orleans still not accepting school chocie students. Should Brewster open itself for school choice, expect a mass migration from the Monomoy region.
On the upper Cape, especially in Bourne, we anticipate some losses to the new Map Academy Charter high school in Plymouth, which is inching closer to final approval. While Sturgis is a school that attracts high-achievers, Map Academy Charter is an alternative school model. Students who feel under-served in Bourne, Sandwich and Mashpee may well choose the new Charter just a short drive away in Plymouth.
Children on Cape Cod have never enjoyed a richer set of educational choices than they enjoy in 2017. The Cape boasts two excellent Charter schools, two thriving tech schools and a robust set of school choice offerings.
School competition is becoming a serious business in our area. By the past few years' numbers, it's likely we will see another consolidation of school districts in the not-too-distant future, as some districts sharpen their game and others fall by the wayside.
|Cape Area School Enrollment|
|Change from 2001 to 2017|
|Source Mass Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education 2/18/2016|
|Cape Cod Tech||625||616||-1.44%||623||1.14%||-0.32%|
|Sturgis Charter Public School||200||805||302.50%||804||-0.12%||302.00%|
|Monomoy (2001 = Harwich + Chatham)||2288||1931||-15.60%||1864||-3.47%||-18.53%|
|Upper Cape Regional Vocational Tech||592||702||18.58%||709||1.00%||19.76%|
|Brewster (Elementary only)||690||490||-28.99%||492||0.41%||-28.70%|
|Orleans (Elementary only)||255||213||-16.47%||215||0.94%||-15.69%|
|Wellfleet (Elementary only)||131||113||-13.74%||113||0.00%||-13.74%|
|Eastham (Elementary only)||286||177||-38.11%||182||2.82%||-36.36%|
|Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter||171||240||40.35%||243||1.25%||42.11%|