Studies provide look at future school enrollment

Niskayuna Central School DistrictNiskayuna Central School District

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

According to two recently completed studies, Niskayuna Central Schools are going to need to order more desks; the only question is how many.

The school district contracted with SES Study Team, headed by Dr. Paul Seversky, to conduct an enrollment projection and demographic study along with a building capacity study at a cost of $13,850.

More than 100 pages later, the study concluded that the elementary enrollment could tick up by 351 students over the next five years. Middle school enrollment could increase by 120 students over the next eight years and the high school could see 106 more students walking the halls within 10 years.

Meanwhile, the building assessment study looked at the capacity of the district’s buildings. The elementary schools are near or at capacity except Rosendale which is at 89 percent of its capacity.

At the middle schools, large sixth-grade classes mean Iroquois is at 96 percent capacity and Van Antwerp at 103 percent of its sixth-grade capacity.

While the high school isn’t bursting at the seams, it is over target capacity at 102.8 percent.

Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. did not react to the studies’ results himself, but said he wanted to hear from the community.

“At this stage, our focus is on making sure our community is aware of these reports and, in the coming months, opportunities to learn more and engage in the conversation about what they mean for our future,” Tangorra said in an email. “The Enrollment and School Configuration subcommittee will help guide this process.”

He went on to invite the public to view the studies and submit feedback to the district.

The studies are posted on the district’s website and total about 120 pages of graphs and charts and appendices. The demographic study shows that birth rate within the district’s boundaries is down by nearly 9 percent, but kindergarten enrollment is up by 15 percent.

Seversky’s work included more than number crunching. He also consulted with local Realtors and town planners to get a sense of  housing opportunities. Realtors cited the school district’s reputation as a reason buyers move to Niskayuna.

The study gives the district essentially three scenarios: a low range of growth, mid range and high. Currently there are 4,258 students matriculating through the public education system in Niskayuna.

In 10 years, the study says there could be as few as 4,391 or as many as 5,574. Seversky advised the district to use the middle-of-the-road numbers.

“The mid-range projection [with an eye on the high range projection] often can be a good tool to project potential impacts on the district financials,” the report reads.

It does not appear that the district will make any immediate or sweeping decisions based on the studies, but will use the studies as tools in future decision making.

“We will use these studies as the basis for future planning, but only after careful consideration about the potential options in partnership with the community,” Tangorra wrote. “There are many program planning efforts underway in the district. . . . This work, combined with information from the studies and previously identified facilities and infrastructure needs will ultimately inform capital improvement plans. Working as a community to shape these plans will take some time.”

Seversky is set to present the information to the school board at its meeting on Jan. 9.