Saugerties Central School District Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt last week shared enrollment figures for the upcoming 2022-23 school year, showing a further drop of 102 students from just two years earlier.
According to Reinhardt, there are currently 1,119 students enrolled in grades K-6, and 1,113 in Saugerties Jr. and Sr. High School. As the district sought to address declining student population last year, a Governance Committee compiled a report showing districtwide student population which peaked at around 3,500 in 2005-06 and has been on a steady decline ever since.
The student population for the 2021-22 school year was estimated to be around 2,300, and while there are numerous residential projects either approved by or being reviewed by the Town Planning Board, Reinhardt last year said there was no reason to believe they would bring the numbers up to a level that supported four elementary schools in the SCSD.
The study led to the district closing Mt. Marion Elementary School at the end of the 2022-23 school year and reconfiguring attendance boundaries to move its former students into one of the district’s three remaining elementary schools.
That process, according to Reinhardt, is paying dividends, as K-6 class sizes currently average 20.3, with no classes reaching the maximum of 25 in goals set forth by the Board of Education.
“That’s excellent for public school,” said Reinhardt during a School Board meeting held on Tuesday, August 16. “Last year, we had a few classes that were over 25, and I believe we had two sections of 28.”
Reinhardt explained that because each elementary school grade is spread out over three buildings, class sizes may vary. The range in class sizes in kindergarten for the 2022-23 school year runs between 15.3 at Riccardi and 16.5 at Grant D. Morse. A much larger overall fourth grade class sees the range vary from 22.5 at Morse to 23.5 at Cahill.
“We’re always going to have a few ebbs and flows,” Reinhardt said. “So we’re not going to get the exact balance we always hope for. But we’re really happy with these numbers and what we’re able to do and are able to maintain.”
There are similar fluctuations at the secondary level, with grades seven (182 students), eight (172 students), 11 (152 students) and 12 (167 students) on the lower end of the spectrum, and grades nine (208 students) and 10 (232 students) on the higher end.
The SCSD will also have 50 out-of-district placements for the upcoming school year, with at least three in every grade except 8th, where there are no students leaving Saugerties. The greatest numbers are in kindergarten (six students) and 12th grade (eight students), while the other grades have either three or four students on the list.
Reinhardt also shared updates on the former Mt. Marion Elementary School, which will partly serve as an SCSD pre-K hub, which has had its five classrooms approved by the state Office of Child Care Services. The program hit its maximum of 80 students enrolled, with a growing waiting list.
The SCSD has also engaged in a partnership with the St. Mary-St. Joseph’s Early Learning Center for an after-school daycare that will operate at Mt. Marion from 2:30-6:00 p.m. on school days.
Elsewhere at Mt. Marion, Ulster BOCES is currently setting up classrooms after signing a 10-year lease that will net the SCSD around $1.6 million. Reinhardt added that the district is negotiating with The Anderson Center for Autism for two pre-K classes.
“We’re very happy to announce that the building is completely repurposed,” Reinhardt said, adding that not selling Mt. Marion gives the district flexibility if things change in the future.
“We do have the ability if our enrollment does increase to pull that building back,” Reinhardt said. “And we knew that that was a concern if our population ever does change. But it’s great that that’s now a revenue source with that building is not being open.”
Reinhardt said he expected teaching assignments, schedules and bus routes to be mailed out to parents by the end of August. In September, the SCSD plans to distribute Chromebooks to students in grades 6-12 as part of the district’s technology plan.