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The Impact On Local Schools, As New Yorkers Relocate To Connecticut During The Pandemic

By the first day of school, Waterbury Public Schools had yet to contact the entire parent population. 10% were still unresponsive to what the district classified as repeated attempts.
Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio

New studies confirm that the coronavirus pandemic has led huge numbers of people across the U.S. to move from big, densely populated areas to smaller cities or suburbs. Connecticut is no exception, with its influx of transplanted New Yorkers. And with more parents working remotely, these new residents may decide to stay and enroll their children in local schools.

The number of New Yorkers who have moved to Connecticut during the pandemic is high enough that the state saw a net gain of residents after three years of loss, according to Jenna Weinerman, vice president of marketing at Updater, an app that analyzes moving trends.

“Double the number of people moved from New York City to Connecticut during the pandemic compared to 2019,” she said. “That’s a pretty powerful metric to share with the school districts. You are going to have some new kids enrolling.”

Weinerman said one of the top destinations is Stamford.

“It also experienced 150% growth year over year. And to me that’s a really staggering number specifically coming from the New York residents.”

Other popular cities are Norwalk, New Haven, Danbury and Bloomfield.

Tamu Lucero, superintendent of schools in Stamford, said the district is prepared for anything after seeing an influx of students in 2011 when the market crashed.

“Unlike other school districts in Connecticut that are closing schools, we just opened our 13th elementary school.”

She said enrollment was down this year consistent with state metrics, as many parents with students entering kindergarten decided to wait a year. Open enrollment starts in January.

“I wish there was a windfall of money that came with these students from the state and federal level, but that is not the case,” she said.

Lucero, whose district has 17,000 students, said growing enrollment comes with pros and cons. It brings diversity, but it also adds cost.

“It would be helpful if that came with extra dollars, but it’s really at the local level that we are funded. Because of that we have to ask our community to do a little bit more for us.”

Some rural school districts in Connecticut have seen declining enrollment over the past few years. For a town like Salisbury, the pandemic boost is a great thing, said Linda Sloane, director of SOAR, which offers enrichment opportunities to Salisbury Central School. 

“We found out that a number of the families that signed up are transplanted New Yorkers who have become full-time residents around here,” she said.

Sloane said most people move out of rural areas because of a lack of employment opportunities. Now that people can work from home, they are finally moving back in.

“I think it’s actually been a positive thing for the enumerations, if you look at it that way. And when you have small classes, the kids are always very willing and excited to welcome new faces to the school.”

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