Watertown Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald took exception to the study released recently by real estate blog Trulia Trends that called the school district one of the least attractive systems in the country based on the ratio of preschoolers moving on to the public schools.
The study found Watertown had a .67 ratio, or 67 of every 100 preschoolers in town moving on to the public schools, was among the bottom in the Boston area and nationally. Cambridge and Somerville had similar ratios, with .68 and .67, respectively.
"It's a false statistic," Fitzgerald said. "They might be moving away, and not everyone fills out the (town's) census."
According to the town census, added District Director of Business Services John Loughran, the schools would have 1,000 fewer students than actually attend Watertown's five public schools.
"At least 1/3 of parents did not fill out the census," Loughran said.
In fact, Fitzgerald said, more students are coming into the Watertown schools, including those moving on from preschool.
"We added a kindergarten class this fall," Fitzgerald said.
In 2011-12, the Watertown schools had 2,659 students in grades Pre-K to 12, according to the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Edcuation. That number is up 10 from the previous year and 212 more than 2004-05, according to the district's website.
One reason why the numbers may be off, Loughran said, is Watertown, along with Cambridge and Somerville, is a densely populated town which people move in and out of at a high rate.
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