ICC foresees temporary plateau in enrollment decline

KINDERHOOK–At the Ichabod Crane School Board meeting last week Superintendent George Zini reviewed the enrollment numbers for this school year showing 1,849 students are enrolled in the district as of this fall, down from last year’s headcount of 1,942.

Mr. Zini said at the Tuesday, November 3 meeting that though the number was lower compared to last year this year’s enrollment will change throughout the current school year. Enrollment the year before last was closer to 1,900. He told the board that over the past 14 years there has been a decrease of 540 enrolled students, which is on track with estimates in an enrollment study the district conducted in 2008.

According to the study, the school’s population will stabilize over the next two years, Mr. Zini said.

“Over all, we’re kind of about where we’re going to be for the next few years,” Mr. Zini said, adding that declining enrollment was an issue throughout the Northeast.

Mr. Zini also announced at the meeting that the Primary School was asked by the state to develop a Local Assistance Plan (LAP) due to the 2013-14 standardized test scores among 3rd grade students identified as economically disadvantaged. Primary School Principal Suzanne Guntlow presented the school’s LAP plan to the board at the meeting, saying that she had updated the curriculum in math and English language arts, added an afterschool program to help students who are struggling academically, and brought back the summer school program.

She also said that the district has increased the staff of the English Language Learners program. And Ms. Guntlow emphasized that the state gave the school a designation based on scores on the 2013-14 statewide tests for 3rd graders who are considered economically disadvantage. The designation is based on eligibility for the free and reduced lunch program. She said that of about 135 students in the grade, or 25%, were affected by this. She also said that based the test scores, the students missed passing the test by four points.

Ms. Guntlow said that the rate of students refusing the test did affect the scores, but that two years ago more students took the test as compared to last year. In the 2014-15 school year, about 70% of the district parents refused to have their children take the statewide exams in math and ELA, protesting the number of tests the state requires and other issues connected with the Common Core learning standards.

When Board member Regina Rose pointed out quality issues associated with the 2013-14 tests year, Mr. Zini said the test that year was “what people would classify as a faulty test.”

Also at the meeting:

  • In an update on the capital project, district Facilities Director Steven Morratta said that locks on the high school doors that would require a swipe card to unlock were in but not finished; he hoped the doors would be working by December. A project that would include the construction of vestibules at the Primary and Middle schools and four new classrooms at the Primary School will go out to bid in January. Mr. Zini said that two of the new classrooms will be used for music and art
  • Jack Sweeney, a parent of students in the lower grades, said that students who take the statewide tests are being bullied. “Most of the community here is not in favor of Common Core,” he said, adding that that there are students who do want to take the tests.

Mr. Zini said that administrators have discussed the issue of bullying related to testing with the teachers and that they district takes the issue seriously.

“We all feel bad that kids are caught in the middle of that,” he said.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, December 1 in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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