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Kindergarten growing

Momot Elementary School (shown above) does not have the capacity for kindergarten enrollment surges.

Momot Elementary School (shown above) does not have the capacity for kindergarten enrollment surges. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— Elementary enrollment at Plattsburgh City School is on the rise.

More young people with children are moving into the area.

That poses difficulties for Plattsburgh City School though, faced with little space and budgetary limitations. Still, Superintendent James “Jake” Short said it's good news.

“I think that is great.”

The district's 2011 School Enrollment and Projections Report indicates kindergarten enrollment is expected to rise from 150 to 186 students in 2012-13.

The numbers are based on birth rates in the city of Plattsburgh.

“Enrollment affects us,” Short said. “Anything that occurs with a tight budget affects us.”

The district would have to add another kindergarten class.

“You are not going to have a kindergarten class of 38,” Short said. “Nobody in their right mind would do that.”

That new problem challenges the district financially, he said, especially when school officials expect to make programatic and staffing cuts this budget season.

It also challenges the facilities.

“We could run out of space,” Short said. “At Momot we know we are out of space. All of that matters.”

If the trend holds true over the next few years, it could mean adding grades elsewhere each year.

In fact, K-5 enrollment is currently at 852 students. Next year it is expected to increase to 917, the following year 968 and by 2014, 1018 students.

“These numbers also start refilling into the middle school and high school,” Short said.

Another report for total population trend shows K-12 jumping from 1866 to 2131 by 2016.

“Most of that is in the elementary school,” Short said.

The enrollment projections are supported by a 2009 study from Plattsburgh State's former Technical Assistance Center, which indicated a growing population of young people with children entering the area.

“That data from 2009, still today in 2011 is absolutely steady and holding true,” Short said. “So when we look back at old data and use the same science to predict ourselves forward, it is on pretty good grounds.”

He said the district will need to face the enrollment surge, though affording it may be a struggle, especially with inadequate state aid and a tax cap.

Short wondered, “With the tax cap, how do you take into account population growth?”

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