Ever since Head of School Margarita Curtis announced Deerfield’s unusually high acceptance yield, the administration has been revamping their plans, originally for 617 students for the 2009-2010 academic year, to accommodate thirty additional students. To achieve this goal, dorms will undergo renovations, class and team sizes will increase, and the budget distributions will change.
Since Deerfield does not currently have enough dorm rooms to accommodate the influx of students, some buildings, several common rooms, and faculty apartments will be converted into dormitories and dorm rooms. A section of the faculty apartment in Dewey Dormitory will become a double, the pre-existing Shumway III doubles will become triples, and the Poc II apartment will house four students. Common rooms in Mather, McAlister, Pocumtuck, and John Louis will create enough dorm rooms to accommodate twenty more students. In addition, Bewkes house will undergo renovation over the summer by a professional architect into a spacious dorm of double rooms for about ten additional students.
To replace the lost common rooms, the administration is working to find additional spaces for students. “We’re looking to convert dormitory basements into common rooms,” Ms. Curtis explained. This would give space back to students for television sets, couches and communal microwaves and refrigerators.
According to Joseph Manory, Deerfield’s chief financial officer, the integrity of our small classes will also be maintained, despite the increase.
“We currently have average class sizes of about 11 students, which will now grow to about 12 or 13.” This relatively low increase per class will also allow the school to keep the size of the faculty and staff roughly the same.
“We’re not hiring additional teachers,” Ms. Curtis said, explaining that she and Dean of Faculty John Taylor will work over summer vacation to sort the student body out evenly for next year across “[class] sections, dorms, and terms” so they do not overload our faculty.
The extra tuition money “will go towards building new dorm rooms, like in Bewkes. As we build the dorm rooms, in certain locations we need to address the regulatory aspects,” Mr. Manory explained, referring to the purchase of additional food, textbooks, laptops, and sports equipment, as well as a small increase to dorm feed budgets.
While the overflow of students will increase the operating budget, the effects of the current financial recession are still with us.
“The overall percentage of applicants requesting financial aid a year ago was 40%,” Mr. Manory said, “whereas this year it is about 43% or 44%.” Deerfield will keep its current financial aid budget.
Since additional dorm rooms will already be in place for the 2010-2011 school year, there will be no budget increases either for their construction or for dormitory renovations. That said, Mr. Manory projects that the more difficult years will be 2012 and 2013, when the endowment’s annual contribution to the school’s operations will be at its low point for this economic cycle.
While the school will experience a new level of “tightening its economic belt” over the next few years, the school’s situation is unique among its peers.
According to Ms. Curtis, while Deerfield faces an over-enrollment, “a couple of schools in our league among the Eight School Association are under enrolled.”
She attributes our increase to the academic stability and sense of community that our school exudes on a daily basis. And, according to Ms. Curtis, these are the foundational factors that truly set Deerfield apart from our competitors.