A Quick Look at HPS Enrollment 2016-17: Batchelder, Simpson-Waverly, and Milner Are Not the Smallest Schools

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Yesterday, I posted a data visualization with enrollment, race, and accountability data for the Hartford Public Schools in 2015-16. That was the most recent year with all of these data points publicly available.

So I wanted to post enrollment data for HPS in 2016-17, the most recent year of available data, in order to aid the discussion about the recent reorganization plans. What’s most interesting is that the schools that are proposed for closure, Batchelder, Simpson-Waverly, and Milner (all in orange print below), are not the smallest schools in the district. So if we are talking about efficiency in closing small schools, these would not be the first schools I would look at to close and/or merge with other schools.

The average (mean) school enrollment in Hartford is around 423 students when combining the special education programs with the regular school totals. Depending on how you deal with small school programs, the average enrollment size Connecticut is somewhere between 400 and 500 students.

In 2016-17, Batchelder school was above the district average in terms of enrollment with 452 students, while Simpson-Waverly (335 students) and Milner (292 students) were below average in terms of enrollment. Batchelder and Simpson-Waverly had separate special education programs counted as very small schools (see below).

Nevertheless, they are not the smallest schools in the Hartford school district. In fact, there were 9 public schools in Hartford that were smaller than Milner in terms of enrollment. The smallest schools in the district in terms of enrollment in 2016-17 were Capital Community College Magnet (57 students) and Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy (131 students).

Small schools aren’t inherently an issue. But there are tradeoffs. On the one hand, a smaller school could mean smaller class sizes, better relationships, etc; and, on the other hand, small schools could mean an inefficient use of resources such as buildings and teachers. Also, it’s important to note that some of the schools on the list already share space with other schools in the same building (e.g. HPHS programs).

Indeed, even before the most recent reorganization plan, MLK school, High School, Inc., Culinary,  Journalism and Media Academy, and Capital Community College Magnet (all in red print below) were already merging or had plans to consolidate with other schools. In other words, the district has already started the process of merging very small school programs with other small programs, such as the plans for the Weaver and MLK renovation projects.

Importantly, schools are not necessarily in control of their enrollment either. Smaller school enrollments could be the result of a number of things such as changing neighborhood population and demographics, district decisions in where they place students in non-magnet schools, parent preferences, facilities capacity and condition, losing students to magnet and charter schools, etc.

In this case, there are schools in Hartford that are smaller than Batchelder, Simpson-Waverly, and Milner that are not facing a proposal to close or merge. These schools include Breakthrough North, Great Path Magnet, McDonough Middle School, Hartford Pre-K Magnet, and Renzulli Gift and Talented Academy.  A fair question might be: If a criterion for merging or closure is small enrollment size, then why not close or merge these smaller schools first?

School Name (2016-17) Total Enrolled

# Students

Revised Total
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy 1024 1024
Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts 913 913
Bulkeley High School 688 725
Sport and Medical Sciences Academy 709 709
M. D. Fox School 647 682
Naylor/CCSU Leadership Academy 636 662
Burr School 616 635
Asian Studies Academy at Bellizzi School 634 634
Webster Micro Society Magnet School 633 633
Global Communications Academy 617 617
Environmental Sciences Magnet at Hooker School 610 616
Classical Magnet School 560 560
Kennelly School 557 557
Capital Preparatory Magnet School 556 556
Parkville Community School 534 534
Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School 501 516
Burns Latino Studies Academy 496 498.5
West Middle School 449 464
Batchelder School 433 452
University High School of Science and Engineering 431 431
Wish Museum School 429 429
Rawson School 383 428
Pathways Academy of Technology and Design 421 421
Sanchez School 396 396
HPHS Nursing and Health Sciences Academy 383 383
HPHS Engineering and Green Technology Academy 346 377
Betances STEM Magnet School 375 375
STEM Magnet at Fisher School 366 366
SAND School 362 362
HPHS Law and Government Academy 314 362
Breakthrough Magnet School, South 360 360
Montessori Magnet at Fisher School 336 336
Simpson-Waverly School 314 335
Montessori Magnet at Moylan School 304 304
Betances Early Reading Lab Magnet School 299 299
M. L. King, Jr. School 294 294
Milner School 292 292
Breakthrough Magnet School, North 266 274
Great Path Academy at MCC 272 272
McDonough Middle School 261 261
High School, Inc. 236 236
Journalism and Media Academy 190 190
Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School 168 168
Hartford PreKindergarten Magnet School 157 157
Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy 131 131
Capital Community College Magnet Academy 57 57
MDP – HPHS Law and Government Academy 48
Autism Program – Rawson School 45
EDP – M.D. Fox School 35
EDP – HPHS Engineering and Green Technology Academy 31
Autism Program – Naylor School 26
MDP – Bulkeley High School 24
MDP – Batchelder School 19
High Step Transition 17 17
Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) 16 16
EDP – West Middle School 15
EDP – Bulkeley High School 13
Autism Program – Simpson-Waverly School 11
DDP – Simpson-Waverly School 10
Autism Program – Burr School 9
MDP – Moylan School 9
LC – Breakthrough Magnet School, North 8
Autism Program – Hooker School 6
LC – Moylan School 6
LC – Burns School 2.5
Hartford Average 312 423

Notes: Some small programs enroll fewer than ten students and some up to 40 students. I add these enrollments to the total for the revised total column in the chart above in the case where a small school program corresponds to a larger school program. I combine them with the overall totals because they are mostly located in the same school as their name suggests (e.g. Autism Program – Simpson-Waverly). The LC-Burns program did not have an enrollment total, so I estimated 2.5 students, the average of 4, 3, 2, 1, which are all possible values here.

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Robert Cotto Jr.

Robert Cotto, Jr. is currently the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration. Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College, his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. in American Studies at Trinity College. He is serving his second term on the Hartford Board of Education and in the past has served as Secretary and Policy Committee Chair. Since returning back home to CT from college, Robert has lived in the Frog Hollow neighborhood and he recently moved to the Forster Heights area of the Southwest neighborhood.