Reading Massachusetts Education

Reading Student Enrollment

Over the past 6 years, Reading student enrollment numbers (projections and actuals) have been used and manipulated by school administration and special interest groups to reflect a need that does not exist.

The most accurate, enduring projections were done in 1997 by Drummey, Rosane and Anderson (DRA) as part of the first Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) feasibility study.

However, ensuing studies by Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research (MISER) and New England School Development Council (NESDEC) and "tweaked" numbers by Earl R. Flansburgh (then ERF&A, now FAI Flansburgh Associates, Inc.) continue to be used and misused by Reading school administratiors, depending upon the issue, audience and impact desired.

October 21, 2002 student enrollment projections (available at the Nov. 4, 2002 Reading School Committee meeting) reflect a continued reduction in original projections. Yet, these most recent 10/21/02 projections were not sent to School Building Assistance (SBA) as part of the Dec. 1, 2002 high school project and were not included in the Jan. 13, 2003 Special Town Meeting documentation for school projects articles 5 and 6. Instead, undated MISER student enrollment projections were supplied to SBA to “document” alleged overcrowding problems.

January 13, 2003 Special Town Meeting
The MISER figures were not shown and Town Meeting members were not provided comparison enrollment history. Even in the projected peak year (2007), Reading would have fewer children than the 2097elementary student enrollment in 1997-98... which was accomodated without the luxury of sending Birch Meadow kindergarten students to Coolidge Middle School.

A 12/17/02 SBA Christine Lynch letter to Superintendent Harutunian released at a 1/13/03 Special Town Meeting indicates she has not received any "official" changes in stated need (ignoring numerous letters between taxpayers and DOE indicating new enrollment projection numbers) and, based upon information provided by school officials, continues to consider the two school projects as one. Town Meeting voted for Option 3, with no regard to the Town's financial stability and the lowering of the Town's bond rating by Moody's from AA3 to A1.

The official "solution" (Option 3) for Reading Memorial High School (built for a capacity of 2000 students) is to: demolish the entire 1953 building (approximately 184, 000 sq. ft.), gut and renovate the 1970s field house (56,000 sq. ft) and spaces housing the media center, lecture hall, science and math wing. New construction will consist of a new 4-story facility, a bridge connector and approximately 6,000 sq. ft added to the field house (more lockers and a District Maintenance office). As of October, 2003, the plans for RMHS have continued to change but the essential, most questionable aspects of the project have remained. Approximately $54+ million later, Reading's (2000 student capacity) high school will have a student capacity of "just under 1400 students" (Harutunian long-range plan letter to SBA, 12/02/02).

The construction of a 5th elementary school is the Reading "solution" to inflated, unreliable enrollment projections. Over the past 6 years, Reading student enrollment numbers (projections and actuals) have been used and manipulated by school administration and special interest groups to reflect a need that does not exist.

Question: Why?

Answer: To persuade the public to support the construction of the new, unnecessary fifth elementary school, along with the costly "renovation" of the existing Barrows Elementary School. AND THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY TO BE MADE IN SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION / RENOVATIONS.

In reality, the addition of a few extra classrooms to Barrows and basic upgrading of the facility would have met any future needs at Barrows. Barrows' core facilities already were large enough to meet current state requirements for increased enrollment. Using existing resources wisely would not, however, make architects, builders and other interested individuals any money!

The Barrows plan now underway is actually making the capacity of Barrows School smaller. The most recent of two complete redesigns of the Barrows project by Flansburgh Associates totally guts the school's interior (and creates a library jutting out in the front). The student capacity will be less than the current Barrows school and, combined with the new 5th elementary school, will diminish the space excess (that would be obvious) when nearly 400 students do not appear by 2007 as projected by the Flansburgh 2000 "study" used to justify the new elementary school (and, it seems, more business for themselves). Meanwhile, the enrollment projection done in 1997 by Drummey, Rosane and Anderson was accurate (to the child at the elementary level in 2003!) and Flansburgh Associate's projections are already 200 children inflated.

The Reading "solution" now is to spend millions to make our schools smaller, elementary and high school, covering up the enrollment gap--the absence of all the new students school officials and special interest groups said were coming to justify Reading's construction "needs" in the first place.

The issue here isn't about children or their education. School construction is big business, with many feeding at the trough. Public justification for Reading school projects defies logic and common sense when one considers the facts and not school department / special interest / architect-generated "spin."

What is really going on with these school construction projects? Who is benefitting? Who has benefitted?

Many of those most responsible for railroading overrides through Town Meeting and the voters are already leaving town or quietly trying to distance themselves from Reading's school construction projects.

The Town of Reading will never be reimbursed for the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Flansburgh & Associates for work related to the RMHS "renovation" project: the biggest, boldest, most ridiculously lucrative Reading construction project of all... which Flansburgh ultimately failed to secure.

Construction of the new elementary school at Sunset Rock is ongoing while (not surprisingly) the cost of the proposed Barrows renovation project continues to rise.

Flansburgh Associates has made plenty of money at the expense of the Town of Reading.

Who benefits?


Please right-click, "Save Target As" to download the linked files on this page.

10/21/02 student enrollment projections released at Reading School Committee meeting, 11/04/02.

12/01/02 SBA Application - MISER student enrollment projections included

10/02 Reading Elementary Enrollment Projections Report Summary

October School Department Enrollment Data, 1995 to 2002 - The official October 1st School Department enrollment data (Annual Budget Report). These figures are submitted to the State Department of Education yearly.

School Notice, early (June 11) 1997 plan for accomodating rising Elementary enrollment numbers - Addition of 10 to 12 rooms to Barrows. Later, a reduced Barrows renovation project and a new school were proposed.

1958 Annual Town Report - Information about Reading school enrollment, programs, building sizes in 1958.

Building Needs Conference 10/01/99 and Building Needs Conference 12/29/99 - In these meetings with the State, overcrowding is cited as the "need" for the elementary school projects yet the school department's own enrollment projections show there is no overcrowding problem.

School Building Projects - Information about Reading Memorial High School, Reading School Building Projects, recent feasibility studies and the Reading School Building Committee.