Attracting New Students to Bolton Begins with Appeals to Vacationing Families
If you love Bolton Landing enough to vacation here, why not move here?
That’s the implicit message in a new, 7 ½ minute video called “Coming Home,” which was produced for the Bolton Central School by its consultant, Educational Legacy Planning Group.
The video, which features interviews with successful graduates of Bolton Central School who have returned to live, work and raise families in the community, can be seen on the town’s website, among other places.
“Coming Home” also touts Bolton’s natural scenery, its small town character and, of course, the unique qualities of its public school.
“We’re distributing it wherever we can, wherever we think it will reach visiting families with young children who might want to consider re-locating to Bolton,” said school superintendent Michael Graney. “It’s seen every week in Rogers Park on Movie Night, when it’s shown before the film begins. We’ve also distributed it to realtors. And it’s being spread through social media.”
According to Graney, a campaign to attract new families to Bolton is just one of the recommendations of a strategic plan developed over the course of a year with the assistance of residents, parents, students and teachers.
“We knew we had to address the issue of a declining enrollment,” said Graney, who succeeded Ray Ciccarelli as superintendent in July after having served two years as principal. “We’ve reduced the costs of tuition for students from other districts. We’ve merged our soccer teams with Warrensburg’s. But we have to attract families with school-aged children to Bolton, and this video might help.”
Bolton Central School is not alone in its predicament, said Graney. Three quarters of the schools in the Adirondacks have seen their enrollments drop in recent years.
Approximately 200 students are enrolled in the school today, reflecting a loss of at least 100 students since 2005. A few decades ago, four hundred students attended the school.
“Our studies show that enrollment will continue to decline if we don’t attract new students, leaving us with numbers slightly under 200, and they’ll remain at that level. That’s sustainable, and the future existence of the school is not in doubt,” said Graney.
While Bolton’s year-round population has increased slightly in recent years, that’s largely the result of growth in second homes and an increasing numbers of retirees taking up residence here.
“Frankly, the cost of housing in Bolton is often too expensive for young families to consider moving here,” said Graney.
Other causes for declining enrollments include distance from professional employment, the dearth of well-paying local jobs and the fact that couples tend to have fewer children than they did in the past, said Graney.
People who can work from home at least part of the time and tele-commute to jobs in the cities are among those who might be prospective residents, said Graney.
“We don’t expect this campaign to succeed over night, but even with a few new students, we can reverse the decline,” said Graney.