GHENT–Columbia County public school enrollment dropped by over 6½% from 2011 through 2014. During that same period the number of students classified as “economically disadvantaged” increased by almost 14½ %, according to data in the New York State Education Department’s Student Information Repository System (SIRS).
Total enrollment in the county’s six regular public school districts (Chatham, Germantown, Hudson, Ichabod Crane, New Lebanon and Taconic Hills) fell to 7,076 in the 2014-15 school year from 7,572 in the 2011-12 year, a loss of 496 students. Each district lost students in that period. The Ichabod Crane District recorded the smallest drop in the enrollment rate at just 2%. The biggest decline in the enrollment rate was seen in the New Lebanon District, which went down by 11.6%.
In the most recent one-year interval for which SIRS enrollment data are readily accessible is between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school year. Comparisons of those two years shows that public school enrollment declined by 2%. Ichabod Crane remained nearly steady enrollment for those years, while the other five districts all continued to lose students, with the greatest drop occurring with New Lebanon (4.5%).
Looking at the number of students classified as “economically disadvantaged” during the same school years, there were 3,398 kids in that in 2014-15 compared to 2,969 back in the 2011-12 school year. That’s an increase of over 14% over those four years.
From 2011 to 2014 the “economically disadvantaged” tally rose in all districts countywide, but between the 2013 and 2014 school year the rate rose in only three districts: Chatham, New Lebanon, and Taconic Hills. The biggest jump was in Chatham, where this measure of poverty jumped by 29.3%.
On the other hand, in 2014 the enrollment of economically disadvantaged students in Kinderhook stayed about the same as it was in 2013 and in Hudson the rate dropped. But Hudson remains the district in the county with both had the highest number of economically disadvantaged students and greatest percentage of the economically disadvantaged students in its student body in all four school years from 2011 through 2014.
With declining total enrollment and increasing “disadvantaged” enrollment, the percentage of the student body made up of disadvantaged students has increased. In the five districts outside of Hudson, the number rose from 31.4% in 2011 to 41.7% in 2014. In Hudson, it has stayed at about two-thirds of the enrollment. Taconic Hills was the only district outside Hudson where more than half the students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Table 1 gives school enrollment by district from the 2011-12 through the 2013-14 school years. Table 2 gives enrollment by economic status, with “disadvantaged” further subdivided by district. Table 3 gives the percent of each district’s students designated “disadvantaged.”
The counts, according to SIRS documentation, are “typically” measured in early October. They exclude pre-kindergarteners, when present, but include the few students labeled “ungraded elementary” and “ungraded secondary.”