School District Enrollment Trends in the Capital Region

The Capital District Regional Planning Commission has developed a Tableau Dashboard that tracks public school district enrollment from the 2012-2013 school year to the most recent year of published data. Most school districts in the Capital Region are experiencing a steady decline in enrollment over time. In the 2023-24 school year, there are 42 school districts in the capital region, 45.24% of which experienced growth and 54.76% experienced decline.

From the 2022-23 school year to the 2023-24 school year, the five school districts with the greatest decrease in enrollment are:

  • Edinburg Common School District: -14.29%
  • Menands Union Free School District: -9.18%
  • Green Island Union Free School District: -6.72%
  • Wynantskill Union Free School District: -6.46%
  • Stillwater Central School District: -4.14%

Conversely, the five school districts that experienced the most significant growth from 2022-23 to 2023-24 are:

  • North Greenbush Common School District: 40.91%
  • Watervliet City School District: 3.15%
  • Niskayuna Central School District: 2.35%
  • Voorheesville Central School District: 2.33%
  • South Colonie Central School District: 1.69%

The anomaly in the North Greenbush Common School District, which saw a 40.91% increase, is due to its extremely low enrollment, ranging between only 13-31 students over time. This small base number results in more pronounced percentage changes year over year, as enrollment rises and falls. all other school district enrollment changes are between -14.29% and 3.15%.

The chart below aggregates enrollment by county in the Capital Region. The largest change from 2013-14 to 2023-24 is in Rensselaer County, which experienced a -9.25% decrease in the number of students enrolled in public schools. The county with the most modest change is Albany County, which saw a decrease in enrollment of -1.7% over the same period. Population trends and the number of children born in each county influence the number of students enrolled. For example the population in Albany and Saratoga County is higher than Schenectady and Rensselaer which have similar populations and therefore more students are enrolled in Albany and Saratoga County (according to the 2020 Decennial Census).

School district declines are not just found in the Capital Region but are occurring throughout New York State. Statewide public school enrollment peaked around 1970, following the baby boom after World War II. Since then, enrollment has trended downward. In fact, every county in New York State has fewer students enrolled in 2023-24 compared to 2018-19 (pre-pandemic).

This decline is partially attributed to smaller family sizes and lower fertility rates, especially in New York State, where the fertility rate in 2022 was only 53.6. Additionally, economic factors such as the high cost of living and shifting demographic patterns, including the migration of families to other states, contribute to the decreasing student population. The trend reflects broader societal changes, with couples opting to have fewer children, often later in life, and the increased flexibility to homeschool due to more flexible work schedules. These factors collectively impact overall school enrollment numbers across the state.

Additional Resources:

Missing Kids: NY Public School Enrollment Falls Again

A look at New York State public school enrollment trends in 2022-23

School Budgets Outpace Inflation As Districts Plan To Spend Over $33K Per Student

Read more about School Districts Below:

School District Finance

School District Finances in the Capital Region for the 2021-22 School Year