The Saranac Lake Central School District was centralized in about 1968 as the school district with the largest area in the State of New York, covering a total of 603 square miles. The district is composed of all of the Towns of Harrietstown and Brighton and parts of the Towns of Santa Clara and Franklin in Franklin County; all of the Town of St. Armand and part of the Town of North Elba in Essex County; and part of the Town of Black Brook in Clinton County. The total population in the district in 2000 was about 10,700.
There are four schools in the system: the high school on LaPan Highway in Saranac Lake, Petrova Elementary and Middle School on Petrova Avenue, Bloomingdale Elementary School on West Main Street in Bloomingdale, and Lake Colby School on Trudeau Road in Saranac Lake. The Lake Clear Elementary School on Route 30 in Lake Clear, formerly part of the District, was closed in 2009; the building is rented to the Adirondack Medical Center, while the playground is still available to the community.
In 2000 the total student population was about 1,710, with 560 students in high school, 480 in middle school, and 670 in elementary school. The school bus depot on Route 3 housed 24 school buses in 2000, and traveled a total of 430,000 miles that year. The district had 163 teachers, 19 teacher's aides, 92 support staff and 11 administrators. The seven members of the Board of Education are elected; terms have recently been reduced from five to three years.
The 1999-2000 budget was $18,866,518, with the average cost per pupil $11,033.
"The Red and White," published by the Saranac Lake Central School District Board of Education in March 2000.
From Howard Rileys' column in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 10, 2011, quoting the Enterprise of December, 1958:
Centralization Group Meets
Reports had been made previously by Mr. Leahy, Alvin Doty of Gabriels, and Dr. Walter Taylor of Saranac Lake. Others present last night were Mrs. Frederick Klemperer, Mott Chapin, and John Campion of Saranac Lake, Herbert Nash of Ray Brook and Gould Hoyt, secretary of Keeses Mills.
The group, after many meetings last year, will prepare a final report to the constituent groups.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 19, 1964
Voters From Twenty School Districts To Decide on Centralization Tomorrow
Marathon Radio Session Held To Answer Any Final Queries
Voters from twenty school districts will go to the polls tomorrow to decide if they want to join together in a centralized school district centered in Saranac Lake.
Area residents had a final chance last night to have their questions on the subjects answered over a marathon radio program.
The program, under the direction of the Steering Committee on Centralization lasted over two hours as calls came in from all over the proposed district. The final session in the Saranac Lake High School Auditorium marked the last step in one of the most urgent and intensive community campaigns in recent years.
The effort to prepare the voters for an informed and thoughtful decision in tomorrow's centralization vote has been largely carried on through the work of the Steering Committee, which consists of representatives of every district in the proposed central district. The thirteen member board, joined by Saranac Lake Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Workman, and county representatives Harlie Smith and Claude Clark, have studied the state education department's plan for centralization.
With all the details at their command, the Steering Committee and the Saranac Lake school board went to each district last week to explain to voters the "dire need," financially and educationally, for centralization of area schools.
Last night's meeting was successful in answering questions that were called in from Lake Colby, Lake Clear, and other areas.
The urgency of centralization is indicated by the concern and concentrated effort so many area people have put into the weeks proceeding tomorrow's vote. Brochures explaining the financial and educational picture, with and without centralization, were passed out to most houses and apartments in the entire proposed central district.
Questions still remain on the qualifications for voters. To vote one must have the following qualifications:
A citizen of the United States, 21 years of age or older and a resident of the district for 30 days before Friday's vote.
One must also have at least one of following three qualifications: (1) One must either own or rent property or be married to someone who owns or rents property. (2) One can be the parent of a child of school age who has attended the district school for at least eight weeks during the preceding year, or (3) If not a parent, a voter must have a child of school age residing with him for at least eight weeks during the preceding year. (Only the head of the household may vote if this is the only one of the three qualifications, that fulfill, [sic]
Any questions on voter qualifications may be directed to the superintendent's office at the Saranac Lake High School. The Phone number is 891-4221.
Voting will be held tomorrow from 2 to 7 p. m. in nine locations. Harrietstown North Elba, St Armand and Santa Clara will cast votes in the auditorium of Saranac Lake high school.
Those going to Bloomingdale will be: Districts No, 4 St Armand and Franklin, Districts 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 10 (including Franklin and Black Brook) and districts Nos. 1 and 3, St. Armand, and No. 5 North Elba.
District No. 2, Harrietstown, Santa Clara and St. Armand vote in Lake Colby Schoolhouse.
District No. 3, Harrietstown and Santa Clara go to Lake Clear Schoolhouse.
District No. 3, Franklin, votes in Onchiota schoolhouse.
District No. 9, Franklin, votes in Vermontville schoolhouse, Brighton District No. 1 votes in Easy Street, Brighton and Santa Clara, District No. 2, go to Keese's Mills.
At Gabriels Schoolhouse will be Districts No. 4, Brighton and Santa Clara.
The votes will be counted at the central polling place, the Bloomingdale schoolhouse, following the closing of the polls at 7 p. m., in the various school houses.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 19, 1964
CENTRALIZATION IS URGENT
Tomorrow, the voters will be asked to make a decision on centralization of the 20 school districts which make up the Saranac Lake area.
Anyone who has had any desire to become informed on the subject has found plenty of information. In fact, there has been a flood of it in recent weeks.
Among members of the school board in Saranac Lake and on the steering committee, there has been a feeling of urgency. In some cases, this feeling of urgency has been transmitted to the voters.
Today, we print a picture page on the condition of the Saranac Lake schools in an effort to communicate why centralization is so urgent.
Centralization is a means to an end. Although the approval of centralization does not automatically give anyone the right to build, what makes this so important now is that in Saranac Lake, the building situation is deplorable.
A citizens' committee last year found that the two elementary schools were in such bad condition that it would be better to junk them than try to repair them. They also found that major repairs were needed in the high school.
Boiler rooms are overcrowded and dangerous; stairways are too narrow and could mean children trapped in a tinderbox of an old building if fire ever broke out.
Classrooms were found tragically small; the heating and ventilation is so bad in some cases that students sit in class half asleep and are not receptive to learning, and some have even been caused respiratory illness by the situation.
The library in the high school is so inadequate that its use becomes a farce; books must be thrown out for lack of room; students are limited in use of the library for lack of space and those there are jammed in shoulder to shoulder.
The lavatories in some of the schools totally lack any privacy for the young children and although kept clean, they are in decrepit shape. Most indicative of the entire situation are the two sinks for 200 children at the Broadway School.
If we admit that that this situation is urgent, and we must, then centralization is urgent, for under centralization, we will be aided in the building program which is necessary. Without centralization, much less aid will be forthcoming.
We pay the money anyway, to the state through income taxes rather than locally through real estate taxes, but there is no point in paying twice. As the chart on the picture page shows, centralization is going to bring a lower tax rate locally.
The outlying schools suffer from some of the same problems with physical plants; the good schools, such as the ones at Lake Clear and Lake Colby will be kept. But all of the students go to the high school anyway, and if centralization does not come about, the outlying districts are going to face catastrophic raises in tuition. Call it blackmail or anything else—it is a necessity.
Taxes and buildings are the bread and butter of the issue, but the real reason for centralization is to provide better education for the children. In many cases, plant reflects on this—clean, roomy, airy classrooms are a much better environment in which to learn.
Bringing the smaller schools together will also mean an interchange among teachers and a greater variety of facilities which will benefit the students.
Centralization is urgent; and it deserves your support.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 20, 1971
SARANAC LAKE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT SALE OF DISCONTINUED SCHOOL PROPERTIES
The Board of Education of Central School District No. 1 of the Towns of Harrietstown, et al, hereby invites the submission of written sealed bid purchase offers for the following school properties:
1. Former Brighton Dist No. 1 — Easy Street School
2. Former Harrietstown Dist. No. 1 — Coreys School
3. Former Franklin Dist. No. 7 — Upper Sugar Bush School
4. Former Franklin Dist. No. 12 — Lower Sugar Bush School
5. Former St. Armand Dist. No. 4 — Bloomingdale School
6. Former Franklin Dist. No. 8 — Porter School
7. Former St. Armand Dist No. 1 — Ike Arnold School
8. Former No. Elba Dist. No. 5 — Ray Brook School
TAKE NOTICE that the submission of bids and conveyances of properties will be upon the following terms and conditions:
1. Bids will be received at the office of the School District Clerk, Petrova School, Saranac Lake, New York, 12983 until 3:00 o'clock P.M. on August 25, 1971, at which time and place all bids will be publicly opened. Check for the full amount of bid payable to "Saranac Lake Central School District No. 1" must accompany each bid.
2. Sealed envelopes most be clearly marked "School Property No. 1"
3. Checks will be promptly returned to unsuccessful bidders.
4. Conveyances to successful bidders will be made only by QUIT-CLAIM DEED. The Board of Education shall convey only such right, title and interest it may have in the said properties, if any. Bidders are advised to determine title at their own responsibility and expense prior to submitting bids.
5. Properties will be conveyed "as is" at date of deed. Deed descriptions will be only according to deed records presently known to the Board of Education.
6. The Board of Education reserves the right to waive bid formalities and to reject any or all bids.
Board of Education By: Eleanor K. Munn, Clerk
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 26, 1971
Sale of Unused Schools Announced
The bids on eight unused Saranac Lake school system buildings were opened yesterday and after a special meeting, the board of education announced the following sales:
Easy Street School to Cantwell and Cantwell of Malone for $5,651;
Corey's School to LeRoy and Sally Pickering of Tupper Lake. $3,655;
Lower Sugarbush School to Alvin Carron of West Chary, $800;
Upper Sugarbush School, to Richard L. Barber of Weedsport $326;
Ray Brook School, to Thomas Cantwell of Saranac Lake, $3,766;
Ike Arnold School, to Martin Sedlacko of Yonkers, $3,100;
Bloomingdale School to Frances Gadway of Lake Placid; $1,100;
Porter School, to Joan Millar of New York City by George Pappas[?], $3,???.
From an article by Diane Chase in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on December 2, 2009, titled "A life of medicine: Dr. Leonard Bristol": Dr. Bristol spent 16 years as a member of the Saranac Lake School Board, 13 years as president. During his tenure, the school district was centralized. "It took several years of hard work by the board to accomplish centralization. Gabriels, Lake Clear, Onchiota, Vermontville and Bloomingdale were just some of the towns that had small schools at that time. By the time the new high school was built, I felt it was time to move on."