Families leaving district seen as a cause
KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane Superintendent George Zini told the Board of Education this week that enrollment in district schools is down to 1,787 this year. Last year’s enrollment in the county’s second largest school district was 1,849.
He told the board at the December 6 meeting that enrollment in the district is still consistent with the study done by Dr. Paul Seversky in 2009. The study, which has been updated over the years, shows that the district would face decreasing enrollment over the decade.
Mr. Zini pointed out the numbers for private school and homeschooled students in the district remained basically the same, with 78 students attending private schools and 33 homeschooled this year. He also said that there has normally been an increase in ninth grade enrollment in the public school when students come back to the district from private schools.
He said that part of the decrease in overall enrollment was the result of 30 families moving out of the district and fewer moving in. “We have families moving out and in all the time,” said Mr. Zini.
The biggest drop is in the Primary School (kindergarten through 3rd grade), where the total enrollment of 493 this year is down from 528 last year. There was an increase in the Elementary School of 22 kids this year.
The board has discussed in the past that there is one large class that is now in 4th grade, which is in the Elementary School. A classroom with two teachers and about 36 students was created in the building to accommodate that bump in the numbers for the grade. The Middle School (6th grade through 8th) decreased by 32 and the High School went down from 616 students to 591.
“The number of kids in kindergarten has stayed the same,” Mr. Zini told the board, saying class size was about 120 to 124.
Board member Regina Rose said that over 10 years, as shown on the enrollment report, Ichabod has gone down by 404 students. “That’s like a 20% drop in 10 years,” she said.
Mr. Zini pointed out that in the 1990s, the district was up to 2,500 students. He stressed the enrollment tracks with the enrollment study, and that the study said the district would plateau in the high 1700s. The study is on the district website at www.ichabodcrane.org.
Due to declining enrollment the board voted about six years ago to close two elementary school buildings in the villages of Valatie and Kinderhook and move all students to the campus on Route 9. Since closing the buildings, the district has worked on reconfiguring the three remaining school buildings and the administration.
Four new classrooms where built onto the Primary School over the summer and at the board meeting last week board member Susan Ramos, who is on the Audit and Finance Committee, announced during their committee reports that the new section of that school should be open soon. She said officials hope classes will be held there by January.
The board has also discussed conducting a facilities study to look at the configuration of classes in the district, which could mean moving the 3rd grade to be part of the Elementary School and not the Primary School. The board did not report on the study at the December meeting.