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Twin County school enrollment on the decline as population recedes

Student enrollment in New York public schools has declined since the 1990s, according to a report from Conservative think tank Empire Center for Public Policy. The same is true for Twin County school districts in the last six years, according to data from the state Education Department.
September 7, 2018 10:05 pm

Enrollment in Twin County public schools has decreased steadily over the past six years, reflecting a similar trend statewide.

Empire Center for Public Policy, a Conservative think tank, released a report Tuesday that shows student enrollment in public schools statewide is at its lowest point as the new school year started.

Empire Center cites data from the state Education Department to show New York public school enrollment in 2017-18 was estimated at 2,608,473, 15,222 fewer than in 2016-17, and just slightly above the 1991-92 total of 2,584,967.

U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, used the Empire Center’s report to push his message that the state is bleeding population, particularly families, because the state is not welcoming for businesses.

“New York has witnessed a 10 percent decline in public school enrollment since the turn of the century,” Faso tweeted Tuesday. “Families continue to leave New York in search of a better job environment. I will continue to do my part in helping to improve our upstate economy.”

School districts in the Twin Counties have seen decreased enrollment in the past six years, according to data from the state Education Department, and at some districts more than others.

In Columbia County, the Hudson City School District had its lowest enrollment six years at 1,767 students. Several districts in the county saw steady declines in enrollment, seeing their lowest enrollment in six years, with the exception of New Lebanon Central School District, which had 549 students last year, but dipped to its lowest enrollment of 403 students in the 2014-15 school year.

School districts in Greene County saw similar trends from 2011 to 2018, such as Catskill Central School District, which saw its highest enrollment of 1,648 students in the 2011-12 school year and its lowest enrollment last year at 1,469 students.

“We are seeing a decline in the number of students cohorts graduating from high schools,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said. “That puts strain on [Columbia-Greene Community College] because of decreased enrollment.”

The enrollment trends in the Twin Counties correlate with trends of declining population under the age of 20.

Columbia and Greene counties saw a steady decrease of people under the age of 20 from 2010 to 2017, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010 the number of people under 20 in Columbia County was 14,165, but in 2017 it is estimated that the number dropped to 11,806. In Greene County the number of people under 20 was 10,906, but steadily decreased to 9,067 people, according to estimates.

U.S. Census Bureau estimates also show steady declines in the general population of the Twin Counties from 2010 to 2017.

“The decline in the number of youth and population is a symptom of the Baby Boomers aging out,” Groden said. “Their children are aging out. My baby is 30 years old. I wouldn’t classify it as people leaving the area. People are moving into the area from the city, and they probably raised kids already and are moving on.”