For first time in years, Kingston’s school enrollment rises

After more than a decade of declining enrollment that led to the closure of four elementary schools and a comprehensive redrawing of elementary attendance boundaries, the Kingston City School District is enjoying its first significant increase in its student population. According to school officials, the district has 104 more students enrolled for the 2019-20 school year than it did in 2018-19.

In 2012, school officials finalized a comprehensive redistricting plan after seeing the student population drop from roughly 10,000 to fewer than 7,000 over the course of a decade. In the plan, Anna Devine, Sophie Finn and Zena elementary schools closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year, joining Frank L. Meagher, which had shut its doors one year earlier. Students from the attendance boundaries of the since-shuttered schools were absorbed completely by existing schools, dropping the total number of elementary buildings from 11 to seven over a two-year period. As part of the plan, the district moved the fifth grade into its middle schools.

The district has since sold three of its former elementary schools, reopening the fourth — Meagher — as a pre-kindergarten hub and administrative headquarters last month.


Repercussions following the recent enrollment spike are few, seen primarily at Crosby Elementary, where two kindergarten sections have 26 students apiece.

“We know our goal is 21 to 22 at K-1-2,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino at the Oct. 2 school board meeting. Padalino said the district would hire a new kindergarten teacher and expand to a third section at Crosby, likely having that in place by sometime next month. The superintendent added that kindergarten is where the largest student population increases have been seen across the district.

Edson Elementary also has two kindergarten sections, with one at 23 students and the other 21, not enough to add a third section. Padalino said that schools have at least one floating teaching assistant who can help in different situations, including classrooms which might be slightly overpopulated based on the district’s class size goals.

Trustee Robin Jacobowitz said that she was pleased with the response to the situation at Crosby.

“I’m glad that we’re looking at ways to mandate that 26 at Crosby,” she said, “You’ve got to draw the lines somewhere.”

Padalino said that despite their best efforts, the district’s enrollment predictions haven’t always been accurate.

“I don’t think anyone predicted that we would be off 104 students at this point,” he said. “We do look at live births, how many dependent children were born, and what’s the housing capacity. Those are all factors that are put into place when we were looking at the role of projection. We have research that tells us what possibly could come. But you can’t guarantee all those students who were born this year, five years from now, four years in, they’re going to come into our programs. They may move and they may attend different schools. And right now are a lot of our enrollment isn’t based on people who were born here. It’s an inexact science, to say the least.”

School Board President James Shaughnessy said the steady decline in student population appears to be over.

“From 2002 to 2016 there was a decline every year between 100 and 150 students,” he said. Ever since, the student population has risen, slowly at first. “One year it was one student, last year there were 25 students more and this year 104. So I think we’re definitely beyond that long-term decline that we were experiencing for a large number of years.”

Padalino said that the district at some point in the near future will likely have to revisit redistricting and redrawing elementary attendance boundaries.

“We’ve talked about this and nobody likes to talk about it,” he said. “But I mean redistricting is something that I think is something we need to start talking about, especially when we start looking at our budgeting and our, you know, resources and equitably doing so. We need to look at our attendance zones as well. We started, we’ve been doing a little bit over the last few years. Nothing official, nothing out there for the board to make decisions now. But I think that that’s part of that for sure.”

There are 6 comments

  1. SG

    Kingston is growing.
    All of the ‘news’ of expats moving here from the city; of new businesses setting up shop in Uptown, Midtown, and the Rondout are having results — new residents, new life, new opportunity. This is why we should not fight, and are very foolish to fight the new proposals we have around the city that will continue to bring Kingston back from the brink of a few years ago. We are finally, finally, finally, getting away from the last death grasp of the IBM failure and it our small businesses, newcomers, new investment and future development (yes, I do mean The Kingstonian among others) that will continue to make Kingston a place people WANT to LIVE IN, not want to leave. The more visitors we are able to host the more people see what a wonderful place Kingston is and will
    see that there is still much work to be done. People want to be a part of that because it is about the future and opportunity, not the past and bitterness. Let’s keep sweeping the bitterness away and keep on polishing this gem we call home.

  2. E. Fudd, local citizen

    More people, more problems. Why do all the city transplants believe that more people is what is good for a community, it is not. Growth, is not what real country folks want. They want peace and quiet, and room to stretch, without bumping into another person. A strong good local economy, generated by those who live here and not through foreign monies. Most real country folk, do not care about tourism trades, only those business’s that make money off of tourists, actually do (Most owned by city transplants who came here for our beauty, and thought of only money and profits, from hoi polloi like themselves. Then transplanting and integrating our local governments, under the guise of more job’s). In fact, most of us wish that you never, ever come here, ever. The truth is we have nothing but disdain towards every one of you, that come up here, wishing that you never heard of our home lands. I know this sounds harsh too some, but the truth often does. If you build it, they will come, therefore, if you don’t, they won’t. Good then, we do not want them too come, stay where you come from, and we will stay here. Less people, less services needed, less taxes, smaller schools, less traffic, smaller government, less monies spent. See, there is nothing wrong with, not growing larger, with more people, with grandiose designs of masses of money spenders, but too stay small and remote can have far greater benefit. We once had swimming holes to enjoy, now most are closed and off limits, due too city folks finding out about them and ruining them. Stay put, we do not want you here, we do not need your tourism dollars, and our government should not think it is always about building more, bigger, larger, but too represent the majority that does not want it, nor need it. Now that would be a refreshing change. And, please stop publishing stories about our formally secret beautiful spots, so everyone knows about them, and jams up the place with people who do not belong here, leaving their trash, destroying what once was pristine. Give me land, give me land, give me those green open spaces.

    1. Mr. Rogers

      I wish to welcome everyone, from the city and everywhere, to share this beautiful area. Why keep it blocked off for just a few, just because they are from here, when it was meant for all? Also, if someone, and their family wish to come here and try to make it, in a new business venture, adding growth to Kingston and the surrounding area, that is their right too. Diversity makes us all better and stronger.

  3. Lauren

    Coleman High School was closed. All of those kids had to go somewhere! Of course Kingston enrollment will go up.

  4. ZM

    I’m not sure that every Kingston resident would consider him/herself “real country folk.” Kingston is a city. Yes, it is surrounded by beautiful open spaces that are unfortunately being grossly mistreated by tourists and therefore harder to access for everyone but the growth in the school district is not a directly related issue at all. It is misguided to assume the growth in the district has much at all to do with “tourism dollars” and people “from the city.” Not everyone from NYC comes here with a fortune and not everyone that comes here is from NYC.

    Our school district is growing for a number of reasons. Students need to relocate from surrounding areas due to private family issues; students might need to live with a family member that lives in Kingston whereas their more immediate family did not. More simply, people have the right to relocate and choose a place they would like to live. Despite what brings them here, all educators I know understand their obligation to teach their students wherever they might come from and they do a very good job of it.

    There are many people in Kingston who are wary of, yet open to change. Please, do not be so presumptuous as to think “most” of us “disdain” people who choose to relocate. Your opinion is not the opinion of the city at large, it is only yours. Do you think the populace of any borough in NYC would hold such disdain for someone because they visited for a day?

    While there are certainly issues that come with a growing population and there is most definitely a time and place to discuss that, growth in the school district can be traced to so much more than people from “the city” and all the money that supposedly comes with them. School district growth is not the same exact issue as gentrification in the city; the issues do not have the same causes nor do they have the same consequences felt by the city.

    1. Elmer J. Fudd

      I was responding to SG, whom seems to answer everything with how much better us country bumpkins lives’ are, due to the city transplant, breathing new life into the decrepit landscape abandoned by the idjits’ that lived here. How we benefit by their newer, bigger, shinier, and yes more expensive, way of life. I firmly disagree with SG, and her bring more people in philosophy, and that many, along with myself from here believe, smaller, and local is far better, and do not want tourists, that decide to relocate and bring more with them taking business from the local trade. SG brought it up, that the increase, was due to, more or less, new blood, transforming Kingston “from the brink”, and the more we invite, the more will stay, and that, that somehow makes a place better. Bull dunky, more people does not necessarily mean, a better place.

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