One of the region’s largest school districts keeps getting smaller.
Enrollment projections to be used in determining staffing levels for next year in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District and given to a consulting firm developing a plan for Ken-Ton’s future show a continued decline.
The total enrollment in October was 7,370 students, which means Ken-Ton’s enrollment has dropped by 171 students from the year before.
At Kenmore East High School, where graduating classes once surpassed 1,000 students, the overall enrollment dropped to 981 this year. The latest projections have it down to 659 by 2017-18.
Districtwide enrollment has dropped by 9.5 percent between 2008-09 and the current school year. And each of three methods used to calculate projections through 2017-18 show further decreases ranging from 4.4 percent to 6.2 percent.
The 4.4 percent figure is considered the most accurate, according to Robin B. Zymroz, director of student services.
Five-year projections, which were presented to the School Board last week, were based on enrollment counts done in each of the district’s 13 buildings in early October.
“We take that information, and we use that information to project into the future,” Zymroz said.
Those projections also have been given to SES Study Team of Canastota, the consulting firm hired by the School Board in August to explore the possibility of a districtwide consolidation.
Falling enrollment, stagnant state aid and increasing costs already have resulted in a decision to close Jefferson Elementary School next year. But the move by Jefferson students, current and future, into four other schools will result in only a temporary spike in their enrollments, according to Zymroz.
Meanwhile, the formal plan for Jefferson’s closing is a work in progress, said School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro.
“There’s a lot of human capital involved,” he said, citing students, staff and technology.
Closing Jefferson is expected to save the district approximately $2.5 million. Even so, early work on the district’s 2013-14 budget indicates a $2 million deficit because of various factors, including the depletion of reserve funds.
Programs, class sizes and staffing all took a hit in the current budget, in which the district had to dig itself out of a $12.5 million hole.
“I still don’t want to see additional cuts in programs. I think that’s important,” said School Board President Bob Dana. “We’ll fight with the tough decisions.”
Other board members agreed. With all of the cuts made in recent years, member Jim Simmons said, they’re already at the “bare bones” level.
Money-saving recommendations that may arise out of the consolidation study won’t be a factor in the 2013-14 budget, the superintendent noted.