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Area schools see slight variations in enrollment numbers from last year

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POTSDAM - School officials in the region say their enrollment numbers on the opening days of school are very similar to the number of students they had at the close of the 2011-12 school years.

Potsdam and Parishville-Hopkinton saw slight decreases in enrollment, while Massena and Colton-Pierrepont both saw an increase in their students.

Potsdam Central’s opening day enrollment decreased about 2.2 percent from 1,381 to 1,350, Superintendent Patrick H. Brady attributed much of the drop to last year’s large senior class combined with this year’s small kindergarten class.

“There’s fluctuation in the numbers at each grade, but the largest change with the kindergarten class coming in. Last year’s kindergarten class was 128 students and it’s 101 this year,” he said, adding the opening day enrollment for their senior class last year was 13 more than the opening day enrollment for this year’s kindergarten class.

“That was one of the more significant differences,” he said.

Enrollment at the Parishville-Hopkinton also decreased slightly, but Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said he’s expecting to see their enrollment increase again next year.

Their enrollment decreased approximately 2.5 percent down to 491 students this year compared to the 503 they had last year.

“We have had a 1 to 2 percent slide in attendance for the past couple of years,” he said. “I expect a small uptick next year.”

The reason for the decline, he said, is larger outgoing senior classes than incoming kindergarten classes, something that he’s expecting to change next year.

“Our incoming kindergarten class will be larger than our outgoing class,” he said. “I anticipate we will be about where we were last year.”

In Massena, enrollment across the district increased approximately 1 percent.

“Last year we were at 2,914. This year we’re at 2,942. We are up. That’s good news for us,” Superintendent Roger B. Clough II said.

The reason for the increase, he said, was a boost in enrollment at the high school. Last year the school has 876 students, while this year they have 921.

Enrollment at J.W. Leary Middle School stayed the same with 457 students both years, while the numbers at the district’s three elementary schools declined slightly from 1,549 students to 1,533.

The school with the largest change in population was Colton-Pierrepont Central School. That district saw an increase in enrollment of roughly 5.5 percent.

Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said opening day numbers last year saw the district with 327 students compared to the 345 they have this year.

“It was families moving in with children at all different grade levels,” he said, adding the increased enrollment is spread throughout the district.

“It’s nothing we anticipated. We just had a lot more families move in than move out,” he said.

In Brasher Falls, St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said he’s expecting their enrollment to be about the same as it was last year, but at this point he wasn’t prepared to release enrollment figures.

“I’m hesitant to say,” he said. “Since the school closed in June, I know that we have 64 new students. We don’t track as closely how many have left.”

That’s something that Mr. Putman said would be difficult to do even if they wanted to.

“Every once in a while we don’t know until they don’t show up for several days,” he said.

But based on what he saw Thursday, Mr. Putman said he’s pleased.

“I think given the number of new enrollees, our student count should be probably as good as last year.”

Norwood-Norfolk Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said she’s expecting her district’s enrollment to decrease slightly, but at this point in the year she wasn’t quite sure.

“We lost well over 20 students over the summer,” she said. “We have not had quite the same number moving in or moving back in. At this point it’s too soon to say.”

Trinity Catholic School Principal Kathy Behrens said the enrollment at her school, a Catholic elementary school in Massena, is about the same as last year.

“We’re about the same as we were,” she said. We maintained, which we’re very happy about. I appreciate the parents blessing us with their children.

Being a private school, Ms. Behrens said they’re able to offer smaller class sizes than their public school counterparts.

“I do like that our kindergarten classes - we only have two, plus a JK (junior kindergarten) - are 12 and 13. It’s nice individualized help that will help our little kindergarten class,” she said.

Bob Beckstead contributed to this report.

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