RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The Ridgewood School District's population will decrease by about 3 percent in the next five years and that change could play a role in both the district's decision to implement a full-day kindergarten program and the town's effort to build high-density housing in four different locations around town.
Demographer Ross Haber conducted a population survey that revealed that the district's student population will decrease by 169 students over the next five years, but still be considered "stable" by district standards.
School Superintendent Daniel Fishbein said the study demonstrates that the district already has the necessary facilities to accommodate a full-day Kindergarten program.
"We do not need to construct anything else to offer an all-day kindergarten program," Fishbein told the Daily Voice. "Our enrollment has leveled off."
Fishbein said the district's Kindergarten Exploratory Committee still has a lot more work to do before deciding if it can offer a full-day program.
On the housing side, Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck said the results of the study should quell the fears of residents who believe the new housing will flood the school district with additional students and drive up the school budget, which Hauck says already accounts for two thirds of residents' taxes.
Citing the studies findings, Hauck said that, even if the new housing were built, the district would still have fewer children in five years than it currently does.
"Ross’ demography study revealed that school enrollment will decrease steadily," Hauck said. "Even if we had all four housing units built in the next few years all we would have is 45 more kids and we already lost more than that."
Hauck said the housing units would be high-end apartments aimed at attracting empty-nesters and upward moving professionals — not families.
"If you had a bunch of kids moving into these apartments it would be a net drag on our budget" Huack says. "But if there are less it would be a net plus."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.