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Lansing Elementary School

Lansing School Superintendent Chris Pettograsso told the Board Of Education last week that student enrollment continues to rise in the district.  Pettograsso said that the district is up by 14 students since the beginning of the year, and rises in the elementary school population over the past few years are now beginning to show up in the middle and high schools.  Board member Linda Pasto asked Pettograsso whether growing enrollment is unique to Lansing or a trend county-wide. 

"We are definitely an anomaly," Pettograsso said. "I don't think it's just the County. I think it's a New York state. There are a lot of schools, especially around our size, that are decreasing. I think maybe the one district that will be increasing in enrollment that is close to us would be Ithaca.  But we're the only school our size that I know about (with increasing enrollment). Most schools are talking about closing buildings, or just just their demographic overall changing -- going down."

Pettograsso explained that school districts typically lose and gain students during the school year.  The 14 new students are a net gain for the district this year that reflects overall totals, but not individual students who may have joined or left the Lansing districts during the year.

"We started the school year with 1,181 students," Pettograsso reported. "And right now we're at 1,195 students. There are four additional students at the high school, two additional students at the middle school, and eight additional students at the elementary school.  And that's been pretty typical at the end of every school year."

Pettograsso said that increased enrollment triggers a look at class sizes that may indicate new teacher hires and classroom and supplies needs.  But she said that the school policy only requires school officials to evaluate how many classrooms are needed for each grade level, and do not necessarily mean adding new classrooms.

"Their class sizes are typically now, at the elementary level, minimally 18 or higher. We do have a policy around class placement. There's nothing that says (for example) if you have a second grade class at this number... it just says that you're really going to look at your demographic of the class, look at your makeup and you're going to see what your needs are. So we will be analyzing that as we continue to grow because it tends to start at the elementary school and now they're ending up at the middle school."

That may mean more classrooms and teachers are needed, but at this point Pettograsso says the issue is being evaluated to provide what she calls 'right-sized' classroom populations.

"The middle school, overall, has a higher increase as well," Pettograsso noted. "And they're starting to head off into the high school, too. So one of the things that we're doing right now is really reviewing all of our programs.  As we go into budget season, we look at what's working, what's not, any place that we might want to right-size based on numbers. In the past where we may have seen a need to decrease, we're seeing a need to increase or to continue."

Pettograsso told school board members that the influx of 10 to 15 students during the school year has been typical of Lansing.  She promised to keep the board apprised of continuing fluctuations in the student population so they can make informed budget decisions as they begin to work through the 2020-21 budget.

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