Roxbury, Margaretville see student population decline
By Joe Moskowitz
Roxbury Central School Superintendent Thomas O’Brien said he was surprised when he took a look his school’s latest enrollment figures. There are about 30 fewer kids attending classes at RCS than there were last year. He said he was a little dismayed because Roxbury’s enrollment had managed to remain fairly stable in the 365 or so range. In a school of this size, that was a huge decline.
At Margaretville, Superintendent Tony Albanese said the drop was 15 or 29 kids as MCS enrollment fell below 400.
Both men place much of the blame on the economy and call it a case of high rents and low pay.
O’Brien said it isn’t realistic to expect an accountant to pack up and move his family up here to replace the people who have moved. But he hopes that with the exorbitant cost of living in New York City, and off-mountain development as a result of the proposed Belleayre Resort, more people will indeed move into the area. And he said the revitalization of the western part of Roxbury makes it ready to welcome an influx. However, none of the people who own those businesses have school-age children.
Schools doing well
Even if the enrollments continue to decline, Albanese and O’Brien said their schools will continue to provide quality educations. Last year, both schools received “Bronze Stars” from U.S. News and World Report magazine.
As low as MCS and RCS enrollments are, there is the Andes story. Its enrollment has hovered around the 100-student mark for years. Andes’ enrollment is actually up slightly, but as low as those numbers are, the community and the administration find it a source of great pride.
Last week, the New York State School Music Association held its regional All-State Concert at SUNY Oneonta, It in volved about 30 schools, large and small. The participants were selected based on ability by independent judges. MCS and RCS were well represented with five and four participants respectively. Andes had five. Superintendent Dr. Robert Chakar said that’s about 10 percent of the entire high school. He said its the size of the school that allows it to achieve unusual results. It can provide individual help and encouragement.
He said he likes to tell people that while Andes may not have football team, it does offer on-line courses and distance learning. He said that all students from seventh grade through their senior year are given laptop computers to use both at school and to take home. That’s a luxury that a much larger school would find difficult to afford. And he said, the low teacher to student ratio creates a wonderful learning experience.
All three area superintendents agree that the small schools have plenty for which to be proud.