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Numbers drop leads to Wildcat concern

Schroon Lake senior Caleb, junior Joseph and eighth grader Emily Maisonville fill out a survey during a public forum on the state of the Wildcat athletic program along with their father, Craig.

Schroon Lake senior Caleb, junior Joseph and eighth grader Emily Maisonville fill out a survey during a public forum on the state of the Wildcat athletic program along with their father, Craig. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Schroon Lake Wildcats are looking for ways to deal with a thinning pack.

A school that had 142 students enrolled in grades 7-12 as recently as 2011-12 is facing three straight years of declining numbers, preparing to be as low as an enrollment of 88 in 2015-16 and 89 the following school year.

Lower numbers lead to fewer students to field middle and high school athletic teams, and Schroon Lake Athletic Director Lee Silvernail along with Superintendent Bonnie Finnerty held an open forum on the topic June 17.

Numbers crunch - Schroon Lake’s declining 7-12 population

This weekend, Schroon Lake Central School will bid farewell to 29 seniors graduating from the institution. They will be replaced by only 14 incoming seventh graders, a deficit of 15 kids in the pool of those eligible to play for modified and varsity sports teams. There will be an estimated total of 103 students in grades 7-12.

In 2015, the school will graduate 22 students while the incoming seventh graders will number in the single digits - seven (four girls, three boys) - another gap of 15. There will be an estimated total of 88 students in grades 7-12.

In 2016, 19 seniors are expected to graduate, being replaced by 11 incoming seventh graders, a difference of eight to the negative. There will be an estimated total of 89 students in grades 7-12.

“We want to develop a plan to provide sustainable options, whatever they may look like,” Silvernail said. “I feel passionately about coming up with solutions so we can continue to have a sports program here at Schroon Lake.”

Finnerty said the issue is not one her school is facing alone.

“Not only are we seeing more and more schools merge in the area, it is also leading to fewer and fewer teams to play against,” she said. “This is a topic that is going to continue to come up. We want to field full teams for soccer in the fall. The other sports are important, but the fall season is imminent.”

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