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Enrollment relatively steady at local schools

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Enrollment is relatively stable at the three biggest schools in the north country.

After years of growth, the numbers are similar to the head count this time last year.

Indian River Central School District once again claims the highest enrollment, with 4,351 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“There’s more housing coming down the line, so we’re expecting more students,” Superintendent James Kettrick said. “Next year, we should see some stabilization as per the information we have right now.”

The district barely pulled ahead of Watertown City School District’s enrollment in September 2011. Since then, it has been the largest district in the north country for the past three years.

During the first week of school last year, 4,266 students outside of prekindergarten — nearly 2 percent fewer than this year — were recorded.

Mr. Kettrick said the biggest growth has been at Calcium Primary and Evans Mills Primary, the two schools that pull the most students from Fort Drum.

“We’re keeping track, and the board has given permission to activate any additional (teaching) positions,” he said.

Watertown City School District recorded 4,062 students enrolled last week.

“A year ago at this time, we had 4,060,” Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said. “Over the course of last year, we dropped 120 students. It makes more sense to compare September to September.”

He said one of the pieces of data that he finds more critical than the overall enrollment is the breakdown among schools. He planned to calculate that over the weekend.

Carthage Central School District recorded 3,466 kindergarten through 12th-grade students — just a student shy of the count at this time last year.

“We always watch our enrollment closely,” Superintendent Peter J. Turner said. “It has an impact on everything. It has an impact on classroom sizes and transportation.”

He said Black River Elementary saw the biggest enrollment growth — but it was strategic for the district.

“We shifted some students in there intentionally, and we shifted some of the UPK (universal prekindergarten) students there,” he said.

At a July board meeting, Mr. Turner said about 50 Fort Drum pupils would be reassigned from West Carthage Elementary to Black River Elementary because of overcrowded classrooms and a lack of space to add more teachers at West Carthage.

With a week to go until the school year started, the district Board of Education hired both a kindergarten teacher and a second-grade teacher for the elementary school last month.

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