Lake Placid enrollment up for first time in 7 years
LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid Central School District’s enrollment numbers have increased for the first time in seven years, bucking a nearly decade-long trend of declining enrollment at districts around the region.
For the 2023-24 school year, 550 K-12 students are enrolled at LPCSD. That’s still down from enrollment numbers five years ago, when enrollment was around 625. But it’s up from 537 students last year.
This means that LPCSD has seen an almost 2.5% increase in its student body — which, though a small percentage, is still markedly higher than the other districts in the area. The neighboring Saranac Lake Central School District’s enrollment increased from 1,067 to 1,070 students — a 0.28% increase — while Tupper Lake Central School District went from 736 students in the fall of 2021 to a current 722 students — a 1.9% decrease.
Lake Placid’s latest enrollment numbers are not yet finalized. The school will release official enrollment numbers in October.
In the past, superintendents have pointed to the lack of affordable housing as a major factor impacting enrollment at LPCSD.
“It’s probably too early to attribute (the increased enrollment) to any single cause,” LPCSD Superintendent Timothy Seymour said. “Obviously, we’re pleased to see more students enrolling in the district. It’s a good sign. I think that, as a community, we’ve been working hard to address the housing insecurity issue and some different housing arrangements have come online from last year to this year, so I think perhaps some of those may be having an impact.”
Seymour cited the McKenzie Overlook apartment complex in Lake Placid — which opened to long-term residents earlier this year after it was used as housing for the 2023 Winter World University Games — as a potential factor in the district’s increased enrollment. Every resident who lives in the complex must earn between 40 and 80% of the Area Median Income at the time of their application, and the cost of rent varies based on how many people live in a unit and how much they collectively earn each year.
Homeowners also began to move into another new Lake Placid housing complex on Wesvalley Road, Fawn Valley, earlier this year. The single-family homes are estimated to cost around $220,000 and the townhomes are estimated to cost around $180,000 per unit.
With more affordable housing comes more students in public schools, Seymour theorized, though said it was likely too early to “speculate too much.”
Homeschooled students are not included in the enrollment count, though LPCSD does keep track of homeschool numbers within the district. Currently, there are about 28 students being homeschooled. Seymour said that the homeschool number tends to fluctuate throughout the school year due to the amount of LPCSD students who travel frequently for athletic competitions.
The district is also fully staffed, while other districts have had mixed results with staffing. Saranac Lake Superintendent Diane Fox told the News last week that SLCSD is fully staffed, while Tupper Lake Superintendent Russ Bartlett highlighted staff and long-term substitute shortages. Seymour attributes to faculty positions consolidated through attrition — a process spurred by a downward trend in enrollment over the past decade.
“I wouldn’t say (attrition) is solely (the cause), I know that we work very hard to negotiate favorable conditions for our staff and we try our best to leverage the things that make our school and community special,” Seymour said. “As of now, I think … we’re just happy that we’re in this situation.”
LPCSD partnered with St. Agnes School, a private Catholic school, in 2014 to offer full-day universal pre-K to all 4-year-olds in Lake Placid. St. Agnes School has 52 pre-K students total, 27 of which are enrolled through LPCSD’s universal pre-K program. St. Agnes’ enrollment for kindergarten through third grade is 43.
St. Agnes Principal Katie Turner told the News last week that the school is seeing enrollment stability, and that a large preschool population is a good sign for the future.
“There are finally more children in Lake Placid,” Turner said.
The AuSable Valley Central School District started the year with 1,149 students enrolled, a slight decrease from last year’s 1,166, but a stable count for the largest school district in the Olympic Region.
“Everyone wants to come to AuSable Valley,” AVCSD Superintendent Mike Francia said.
The district has two elementary schools with 642 students in total — 238 at AuSable Forks and 404 at Keeseville. The district has 507 middle and high school students. It also has 36 out-of-district students in the Champlain Valley Educational Services BOCES program and 34 homeschooled students.
Francia said the district is fully staffed, but still struggling to find enough custodial staff and bus drivers. It is using substitutes to fill shifts.
Keene Central School had 170 students on the first day of school this year, the most it’s had since the 2017-18 school year.
The district has 91 elementary school students, 79 in middle and high school, five in pre-K and two homeschooled students.
Superintendent Dan Mayberry said enrollment has been stable and he feels fortunate for that. He attributes this to Keene’s community and small school district.
Mayberry said Keene hasn’t had an after-school program since the pandemic started, and if he can find someone to run it, he’d like to bring it back.
North Country School
The private North Country School in Lake Placid has 84 enrolled students for its 85th school year, which started on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Last year, the school had 86 students. These two years mark an increase in students for the school.
The private school has 31 day students — 15 are children of faculty and staff — as well as 54 boarding students, 25 of which are international students hailing from China, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, Tanzania, Canada, Italy, South Korea and Japan “We’re incredibly proud of the diverse makeup of our campus community,” Communications Director Stanzi Bliss wrote in an email.
Bliss said the school has “strong” faculty retention going into this year, with a number of staff boasting one to two decades of time at NCS. The school has also added an additional school counselor this year, in response to a seen need for mental health and social-emotional learning assistance.
The News was not able to obtain enrollment numbers for the private Northwood School or Wilmington’s Adirondack Christian School by deadline.