Saratoga County

Report: Housing affects Saratoga Springs school enrollment

Over the past decade, enrollment in the city school district has declined by 230 students because


Over the past decade, enrollment in the city school district has declined by 230 students because, in part, of a slowdown in home building in the district, according to a new enrollment report.

Thomas Mele, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said homes in the $300,000 range are also not selling like they were three or four years ago and this, too, has had an impact on the district’s enrollment.

Enrollment in the enlarged city school district, which includes all of Saratoga Springs and large parts of Wilton and Greenfield, is currently at 6,741 students, down 34 students from last year. In the 2006-07 school year, for example, enrollment was 6,909.

The enrollment is expected to increase by seven students in the 2011-12 school year but then drop slightly each of the following three school years, according to Mele’s annual enrollment report.

“We are pretty stable, no huge moves up or down,” Mele said.

He said during a Board of Education meeting last week at the Maple Avenue Middle School that he looks carefully at housing starts in the district as he develops his annual report.

In the 2002 school year, for example, there were 216 new housing starts in Wilton, 123 in Saratoga Springs and 52 in Greenfield. In 2009, by comparison, there were just 32 new housing starts in Wilton, 32 in Saratoga Springs and 19 in Greenfield.

“The high end homes in the district are not moving,” Mele said. He said these homes in the $300,000 range have traditionally been where new, young families have moved into the district.

“Homeowners are remaining in their homes to ride out the recession thus allowing their children to ‘age out’ of divisional programs while at the same time diminishing available housing for new arrivals with pre- or school-aged children,” Mele said in his report.

Another factor in district enrollment picture is the continued construction of luxury rental units and multi-story condominiums that generally don’t generate the number of school-aged children that single-family homes do.

Mele said that economic growth throughout Saratoga County is expected to be stimulated by the completion of the $4.6 billion GlobalFoundries computer chip fabrication plant in the nearby town of Malta.

Mele said the district has already had 10 families associated with GlobalFoundries move into the district over the past year. He said people moving to the region to take high-paying jobs with GlobalFoundries are “shopping for schools” before they purchase a home.

School districts throughout the county are keeping a close eye on GlobalFoundries, which is expected to be completed by 2012 and employ at least 1,400.

As the number of students in the district declined in recent years, the size of the district teaching and support staff has also dropped, said Angelina Bergin, the district’s director of human resource services.

Bergin presented a staffing report to the school board on Nov. 9 in which she also emphasized that the student-to-staff ratio has remained stable without diminishing the educational program.

At present, the district has an instruction staff of 539, a support staff of 540.8, an administrative staff of 28, and a management/supervisor staff of eight.

The total district staff, including food services workers, is 1,115.

In the 2009-10 school year alone, the district abolished 21 instructional positions and 14 non-instruction support staff positions, according to Bergin’s staff report.

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