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Saratoga Springs school district expects enrollment drop

The Saratoga Springs School District is expecting to see its halls empty out a bit in the coming years.

A recent study prepared by the school district estimates that by 2014, districtwide enrollment will decrease by 171 students to 6,665, an approximately 2.5 percent decline.

The reasons are varied, but they include a lack of new housing development and a general economic slowdown.

Many of our developments in Saratoga have been built out and there are minimal new developments being opened, said Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Thomas Mele, who prepares the enrollment report annually for the board of education to use in long-range planning. He added that in the Town of Wilton, part of which is in the school district, development has also slowed.

The live birth rate as a whole has decreased in Saratoga County, from 13.7 per 1,000 people in the 1990s to 12.2 in the early 2000s. This presents a major change in the district's long-range outlook.

In years past, the district had compiled numbers from Saratoga County and estimated, for example, the impact live births in Wilton would have on the district.

"This year the data changed," said Mele. "We were able to gather data from the state education department specific to our district."

A larger-than-usual class is actually expected to enter kindergarten next school year, upping enrollment by 21 students from this year's districtwide enrollment of 6,815.

The study cites the economic slowdown as an obstacle for district residents who wish to sell their homes, and that can slow the arrival of new families in the area. The housing market slowdown has been felt to various degrees around the county; according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, the number of residential homes sales closed in September dropped 17 percent from levels a year previous.

The arrival of an Advanced Micro Devices subsidiary microchip manufacturing facility in Malta, and its 1,465 jobs, has the potential to change the equation, however.

"We have to feel that as AMD does enter our region, the employees of AMD will look at Saratoga Springs for housing," said Mele. "Will it have a major impact? That's awfully tough to say."

The Saratoga Springs School District is made up of six elementary schools, a middle school and one high school.""

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