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Innovation is the route to our future

Editorial

In recent decades, life in the Adirondacks — particularly in the remote areas — has become challenging for year-round residents.

With traditional Adirondack-based industries hampered by competition from overseas and tightened government regulations, good-paying jobs have disappeared.

Our communities shrank due to limited employment opportunities. School enrollments diminished across the Adirondacks by more than 30 percent as families moved out to seek a more promising future.

These trends, confirmed several years ago by the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project report, raised alarm over how many Adirondack communities are threatened.

There is a prevailing force, however, that has been working in the opposite direction.

Innovation.

It’s a matter of exploring revolutionary approaches and devising out-of-the-box solutions to long-standing problems.

There are plenty of examples of how such an approach has proven successful.

This week, Newcomb Central School scheduled a dinner to celebrate their largest enrollment in 25 years — 101 students, a record in recent years. Only six years ago, their K-12 enrollment was 55, down from about 400 several decades ago.

Back in 2006, the school administrators, under the leadership of School Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults, didn’t resign themselves to impending extinction.

Instead, they devised a program of recruiting international students who have traditionally sought out private schools in the U.S.

The program has been wildly successful, bringing additional income into the school district while enriching the educational experience for local children through boosted cultural diversity.

Based on the success of the program, the school administrators are now seeking to establish a dormitory, or secure student housing by the conversion of existing residences.

Such a move could boost the district’s revenue by $1 million, or about 20 percent, offering relief to local taxpayers.

The Newcomb district’s revolutionary thinking goes further than hosting international students and a residential program. The district is also drafting a program through which students can graduate from Newcomb Central with both a high school diploma and a two-year college degree.

Comments should be directed to denpubs@denpubs.com

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