A surge in kindergarteners?

CHESTER. After staying home last year, should we expect surging enrollment at our schools? Straus News dug in to the numbers. To see how your local school district’s enrollment has changed over the past few years, visit the charts below.

| 07 Oct 2021 | 04:51

Last fall many schools saw a significant drop in kindergarten enrollment as parents kept kindergarten age children home. By some accounts, kindergarten enrollment nationwide dropped 16 percent.

To use a sports reference, “we believe families ‘redshirted, so to speak, incoming kindergartners,” said David Leach, Superintendent of Warwick Valley School District.

Reports were schools should expect a wave of new kindergarteners this fall. Straus News looked at the numbers and spoke with local school administrators to get a clearer picture of school enrollments in our area.

Loss of students starting school last year; gains this year

In the Warwick Valley School District kindergarten enrollments increased steadily from 2015 to 2019. Then it dropped eight percent to 215 in the fall of 2020. But enrollment jumped back to its highest level in the last six years in the fall of 2021.

“We were projecting just over 200 kindergartners for this year,” Leach said. “We got about 30 more.”

Extra preparations were made for the predicted spike in kindergarteners. “We typically have 10 kindergarten teachers,” said Leach. “This year we have 12.”

Monroe Woodbury School District’s kindergarten enrollment fluctuated over the last few years. But in the fall of 2020, kindergarten enrollment fell by 69, the largest change in the last six years. This fall, the number of registered kindergarteners climbed by just two to 326 as of Sept. 14, 2021.

“Not that earth shattering,” is the way MWSD Community Relations Specialist Carole Spendley characterized this year’s kindergarten numbers.

In the Chester School District, the number of registered kindergarteners remained consistent and in the 60s from 2015-2019.

Then in the fall of 2020, enrolled kindergarteners fell to just 53 – a 16 percent drop, mirroring the national average. As of Sept. 16, 2021, the number jumped back up to 65, pre-pandemic levels.

Florida School District kindergarten enrollments dropped in 2020 and climbed back in 2021, though not to pre-pandemic numbers.

Like so many other area school districts, Greenwood Lake School District also saw a drop in kindergarteners in the 2020-2021 school year. They went from 40 in the 2019-2020 school year to 29 the following year.

And like Warwick, this number increased significantly this fall to a total of 43 kindergarteners.

Schools that grew kindergarten enrollments during the pandemic

Tuxedo’s kindergarten enrollment actually went up in 2020, and up again this year. Because its total kindergarten class in 2019 was 15, the increase of two more enrollments in 2020 represents a 13 percent increase. Kindergarten enrollment went up another one in 2021.

The Goshen School District had an unusually large number of kindergarteners enrolled in 2018 and saw a drop in 2019. But in the height of the pandemic, 2020 enrollment was up over 2019 and climbed again this year, up 5 percent to 186 students.

Click through the slides below to see how your district’s enrollment has changed:

Graphics by Mike Guillen.
Data: Fall 2021 numbers are provisional.
Sources: p12.nysed.gov/irs/statistics and interviews with local school officials.