Enrollment at New York public schools lowest in decades


ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) – New research has surfaced showing that enrollment numbers for the New York state public schools are the lowest they’ve been in at least thirty years.

According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, Upstate New York is seeing fewer and fewer students being enrolled in the public-school system.

Peter Murphy, Senior Fellow for Education for the Empire Center for Public Policy, says “It’s come now to the point where we’re at the lowest student enrollment in the state in 30 years now. It’s just under 2.6 million students in the state.”

According to this data, which has been compiled over a 10-year period, student enrollment in Upstate New York is going in the opposite direction from the rest of the country.

Murphy says the enrollment decrease reflects the number of New Yorkers moving out of state.

“The state’s competitiveness and business climate that continues to be a problem is driving people away along with people just having smaller families. This trend is going to continue. It’s been going on for 20 years and there’s really no sign of change,” replied Murphy.

There are 55 school districts in the Capital Region.

Of those 55 school districts, five have seen enrollment increases.

Tim Kremer, Executive Director of the New York State School Board Association, says “There are people who have difficult times making ends meet. They might think that they can go somewhere else and find somewhere more economical for them to live elsewhere.”

Kremer tells CBS6 that many leave the area due to economic circumstances.

“I will tell you that a lot of people who I talk to who have moved elsewhere have told me that they wished they could come back to New York because the schools are so good. They really miss the quality of education they got in New York,” replied Kremer.

Kremer says the board has some ideas when it comes to being more efficient.

“Multiple school districts could feed their high schools into a regional high school, providing a richer, deeper, broader curriculum and more extracurricular options. If we can get to that place where we can provide a different way of delivering services. I think we can do a better job of keeping people here,” said Kremer.

The last time student enrollment was at its peak was in the 1970-1971 school year.

During that time, 3.5 million students were enrolled in the New York school system.

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