NEWCOMB-Newcomb Central School (NCS) superintendent Skip Hults met with the Newcomb Town Board earlier this month to present a project that could result in a multi-use dormitory facility being built at the school.
To fend off declining enrollment at NCS, Hults introduced an international student program in 2007 and the school has hosted 30 students from 19 countries since.
"We realized that our building is highly underutilized," said Hults.
His solution seems to be working as 2006 k-12 enrollment numbers were at an all-time low in the mid 50's and this year are up to 85. He now hopes to make the visits of international students more permanent. They are currently housed in the homes of community members for six months to a year.
"This just isn't feasible as a long-term housing option," Hults said.
Hults, therefore, proposed a multi-use dorm facility to the town board.
"The project is very preliminary," said Newcomb Supervisor George Canon. "We are willing to listen and be helpful, but definite plans are probably a year out."
The preliminary proposal requests the town to build the facility and the school would pay for its use during the school year. It would then be used at the town board's discretion during the summer.
Canon has reached out to the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County and the Essex County Industrial Development Committee regarding the project.
"We are exploring long term options for senior housing if there is no long a need for student housing at some point," he said.
Both the school and the town are exploring locations including the school property itself, a seven acre plot on Marcy Lane and others.
As NCS strengthens its relationship with North Country Community College, there may be an opportunity for college students to live and study in another region of the Adirondack Park, according to Hults. NCS began offering NCCC classes to their students last year over a distance learning exchange server.
Hults is confident that the project will strengthen the international student program at NCS, but will also enrich the cultural experiences of local students.
"The international students will leave with stronger academic skills and our students will have a deeper cultural experience," he said.