In 2006, the North Syracuse Central School District saw enrollment hit a record high of 10,035.
Now, for the third year in a row, those numbers are declining.
According to a report presented by Superintendent Jerome Melvin at the NSCSD Board of Education meeting Monday Sept. 14, total enrollment for the 2009-10 school year is 9,442, or 63 fewer students than projected last year.
“In three years, we’ve lost about 600 kids,” Melvin said. “We don’t know where they’re going, just that they’re leaving this district.”
The report, based on attendance numbers from Sept. 10, revealed that 150 fewer students are enrolled in the district now than were a year ago. In October of 2008, the district projected a total K through 12 enrollment of 9,508; the biggest differences between projected enrollment and actual enrollment can be found at the middle school level, where there were 65 fewer students enrolled than projected.
“Our enrollment decline continues to be significant,” Melvin said. “Despite all the new housing, our enrollment numbers are similar to what was experienced in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”
Despite the drop in numbers, the district’s schools, especially the high school, remain overcrowded. That problem was to be addressed by recommendations of the district’s Demographics and Facilities Utilization Committee later this fall. However, as the committee’s recommendations will be based on two-year-old numbers, Melvin said any recommendation will have to be studied carefully before being implemented.
“It’s a real dilemma,” Melvin said. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Also at the BOE meeting, Melvin presented the results from the June Regents exams taken by students at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Eight subjects — English, algebra, global studies, living environment, earth science, French and U.S. history — posted increases in the overall passing percentage, while Math B (where a new exam was offered for the first time) and physics scores dropped.
This is the third year that physics scores have declined in the district. Melvin said it would be a major challenge the high school would have to address.
“Overall our results, with the exception of Math B, geometry and physics, were fairly positive,” Melvin said. “The challenge is to provide remedial help for those who are struggling.”
School accountability report
Finally, Stan Finkle, assistant superintendent for instruction, presented a status report on two schools in the district that were named Schools in Need of Improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act.
As a result of the regulations of the state education department under NCLB, students at Smith Road Elementary and North Syracuse Junior High School who qualify for free and reduced lunch will be offered supplemental educational services such as after-school tutoring and extra help in math, science and reading.
“The absurdity of all this is that a disabled child might not qualify for SES due to family income, while a non-disabled child on free and reduced lunch qualifies,” said Melvin, an outspoken critic of NCLB. “As a taxpayer, I resent the lack of logic in all this.”
Both schools must achieve adequate yearly progress for two years before they can be removed from the list.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.