Cambridge School Enrollment Declines

Though the "baby boom echo" is crowding school systems across the country, Cambridge's public schools aren't feeling the pinch.

In fact, total district enrollments fell a staggering 8 percent from 1995 to 1999, spelling a loss of 653 students.

It's not over yet. The district is expected to lose another 116 students--a full 2 percent--this year.

And these estimates may be conservative. From 1998 to 1999, the elementaries' numbers slipped by 226--more than 4 percent in just one year.


Why the exodus?

Old-time Cantabrigians are leaving the city as rents increase, and in their place are a richer bunch.

The new residents who have children seem to be looking more toward private schools, making public schools compete for their children.

And competing is just what the public schools are doing. From a scrutiny of their programs to a relaxing of school choice restrictions, the schools and the district are trying to retain students.

It's one of the biggest problems facing the district, and as such, will be a chief point of contention in the upcoming School Committee election.

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