Public School Enrollment Decrease In New York

Student Enrollment Down
Southern Tier (WENY) -- New York public schools are going to see more empty seats in the classroom this fall, especially in the Southern Tier.

State Education Department data shows that enrollment has decreased by nearly 19,000 students since the 2008-2009 academic year.

The Southern Tier and Western New York have been hit the hardest. Budget cuts across the state have also cut 13,000 full time faculty and staff over the past three years.

Elmira School District Superintendent Joe Hochreiter says the economy is struggling, but it's hard to pinpoint the exact reason why enrollment is down here the Southern Tier.

"School districts throughout New York state are in a retrenchment," said Hochreiter. "We're laying off staff. A lot of local school districts have laid off staff. Companies have laid off staff. Folks retire and want to move. You know, taxes in New York state are high, they want to move across the border to Pennsylvania, so a lot of things could factor into that."

Hochreiter believes there is potential for enrollment to increase in the future, especially if hydrofracking is permitted in New York. He also said the county's plan to create more construction jobs could bring in more families as well.