SARANAC LAKE - Enrollment in the Saranac Lake Central School District is expected to drop by another 80 students over the next four years.
Enrollment projections through the 2014-15 school year were provided to the school board Wednesday night by Dan Bower, the district's assistant superintendent for business.
The numbers show the district currently has 1,374 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, down from 1,403 last year and 1,488 in the 2007-08 school year. Enrollment is projected to drop to 1,348 next year and continue a steady slide to 1,295 students in the 2014-15 school year.
Terrence Tubridy, pictured here at Wednesday’s Saranac Lake school board meeting, was recently appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Susan Rdzanek. Wednesday was Tubridy’s first meeting as a board member, though he’s been attending the board’s meetings since last year.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"It's trending down, but it's not exactly plummeting either," Bower told the Enterprise Thursday.
In the past two years, school officials have cited the district's declining enrollment as the justification for closing two schools - Lake Clear Elementary, which shut down in 2009, and Lake Colby Elementary, which will close at the end of this school year - and the elimination of teaching and staff positions. At least 15 jobs are slated to be cut this year through layoffs and retirements that aren't replaced. Another dozen positions were eliminated last year.
No modified baseball?
Athletic Director Mark Farmer said Wednesday that the district may not be able to field a boys modified baseball team this season because it doesn't have enough students. He said he's looking at ways to increase the team's roster, including merging with Lake Placid's boys modified team, but hasn't found a solution yet.
"We're trying to fix it, but you can't play baseball with eight kids," Farmer said. "If we can't continue on, there will be some kids and some parents who are disappointed."
If the modified team's season is canceled, Farmer said some of the students could try out for track or lacrosse.
New board member
Wednesday's meeting was the first for Terry Tubridy, who was appointed by the board to fill Susan Rdzanek's seat for the rest of the school year. Rdzanek resigned from the board because she and her husband are moving to Georgia.
Superintendent Gerald Goldman welcomed Tubridy to the board.
"I'm very happy you're here," he said. "It's not easy being a board member. It's a thankless job for the most part. But thank you very much for being willing to do this."
Tubridy said he's hit the ground running and has been reading up on the district's policies and procedures - information Rdzanek left for him.
The remaining three years of Rdzanek's term will be on the ballot in May, along with the school board seat held by board Vice President Darren Dalton. Candidates interested in the seat have to file petitions with the district by April 18.
The board acknowledged the retirement of three more teachers and two staff members Wednesday:
Joan Tyler, special education teacher, hired in 1978
Linda Banta, high school library media specialist, hired in 1984
Linda Jackson, elementary teacher, hired in 1972
JoAnn Cass, food service worker, hired in 1986
Creighton Carter, auto mechanic, hired in 1975
The district is planning to eliminate at least nine and as many as 11 positions that teachers and staff are retiring from this year.
The board also voted Wednesday to appoint former district business manager Mike Kilroy as a long-term substitute transportation supervisor. Kilroy is filling in for Keith White, who is out on medical leave. He'll be paid $28.41 per hour.