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School enrollment up and down in the region

September 14, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY and AARON CERBONE - Staff Writers ( , Lake Placid News

School enrollment is down in Lake Placid, which had stayed level the year prior, and at the Keene Central School.

AuSable Valley gained students, as did Northwood School, St. Agnes Catholic School and North?Country School.

Most local private schools, meanwhile, are seeing enrollment grow.

Overall, school enrollment throughout northern New York has been declining since the early 2000s. The pattern can be seen across almost every school district in statistics from the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services): After baby boomers filled schools in the 1960s, enrollment generally dipped in the '70s, plateaued in the '80s, went back up in the '90s and has been falling ever since.


Lake Placid

The Lake Placid Central School District's enrollment this year is 625, a 31-student decrease from last school year. Superintendent Roger Catania said smaller enrollment each year has been a trend since about 2002.

"It's not just a Lake Placid issue, either," he said, "we're seeing it in plenty of school districts across the Adirondacks."

A concern regularly brought up in Lake Placid is the housing market. Only about half of the residents in the village live there full time. The other half are second home owners, renting their properties out for long-term and vacation rentals. This can drive up property values, making housing less affordable.

"Housing is expensive in Lake Placid," Catania said, "and that does limit our enrollment numbers sometimes. I think that the cost of housing can have a big impact on a family's decision to move here.

"People don't often move based solely on schools, either," he continued. "Other factors such as lifestyle choice, jobs and the quality of housing throughout region create different opportunities. Nationally speaking, we've seen a large movement of people from the Northeast to Southwest in recent years, and that has to do climate, careers and so many other reasons."

Catania said it takes more than the school district to increase enrollment, and he'd like to find ways to let people living in metropolitan areas know that they can move to the Adirondacks, have a relatively cheaper cost of living and send their children to smaller schools.

"How to make that happen is not something a group of teachers can work out on a Saturday," he said. "It's a community effort."


Keene Central School

The Keene Central School District has stayed between 180 and 160 students for the past five years. Superintendent Dan Mayberry said the numbers float within that range because of strong, unique programming as well as taking in students from neighboring districts.

"We get a few from Lake Placid and some from AuSable Valley every year," he said.

Mayberry said small class size is an advantage.

"They allow teachers to build strong relationships with their students," he said. "It's less likely for students to fall through the cracks."

However, he did say sometimes classes can be too small.

"When a class size is below 10, it gets socially challenging because there is not a lot of variety of students to engage with on a peer level," he said. "It's great if you fit in, but not if you don't. In the past, we've had a few classes that had 18 students, and we had some that had nine. You can really tell the difference, socially."


Northwood School

This private high school in Lake Placid went up by 33 students from last year, an increase of 18 percent.

"We saw a record number of applicants," said Brad D'Arco, director of admissions, "and the strength of the applicants was impressive."

D'Arco said Northwood has been introducing new classes and programs in the past few years to attract students with varied backgrounds from around the world. For the 2018-19 school year, Northwood will have 159 boarding students and 34 local students.

"We've introduced entrepreneurship classes in the recent past, and our two robotics clubs are becoming more attractive," he said. "We've also broadened our art offerings this year with theater and a capella groups. This year we're also adding a boys soccer team to our sports roster."


North Country School

This private school in Lake Placid has 79 students enrolled this year (56 boarders, 23 local), which is a good number, Director of Admissions David Damico said.

"A few years ago we converted one our student dorms into an academic building," he said, "so we did see a dip that year." He's referring to the 2016-17 school year, which had 55 students enrolled.

"Now we're back in a healthy range," he added. "However, if the demand was there, we'd build more student housing."

Damico said North Country is intentionally small, and tries to keep a 3-to-1 student-teacher ratio.

Two major projects coming to the North Country campus this year are a learning kitchen facility and a performing arts building. The kitchen building should be completed by January, and the arts center is expected to take 10 months for construction - possibly in time for the school's summer program, Camp Treetops.


Local school enrollment


These numbers are unofficial, reported by schools to the Enterprise during the first two weeks of classes. Schools are listed from most populous to least populous. Preschool enrollment is not included. An asterisk (*) indicates the school also has preschool.


AuSable Valley Central (K-12)

2018-19: 1,150

2017-18: 1,125

2016-17: 1,130

2015-16: 1,115

2014-15: 1,180


Lake Placid Central (K-12)

2018-19: 625

2017-18: 656

2016-17: 651

2015-16: 660

2014-15: 664


Northwood School (9-12)

2018-19: 193

2017-18: 160

2016-17: 175

2015-16: 175

2014-15: 170


Keene Central School (K-12)

2018-19: 163

2017-18: 170

2016-17: 168

2015-16: 166

2014-15: 179


North Country School (4-9)

2018-19: 79

2017-18: 70

2016-17: 55

2015-16: 75

2014-15: 90


St. Agnes Catholic School (K-3)*

2018-19: 46

2017-18: 42

2016-17: 45

2015-16: 42

2014-15: 40


Adirondack Christian School (K-12)*

2018-19: 26

2017-18: 28

2016-17: 21

2015-16: 19

2014:15: 17



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