District History

High school and kindergarten students stand in line to use a water fountain at Niskayuna High School in the 1960s.
In the late 1960s, some of the district’s kindergarten classes were moved to the high school to provide more space in the elementary schools for the rapidly growing population.

The Niskayuna Central School District was formed when area residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of centralizing five area districts in June 1953. The community moved quickly to address the facilities and programming needs of the new school district, including building three new elementary schools and a comprehensive high school to complement the existing Craig and Van Antwerp schools. Developing the academic program was an equally important priority, as a high school principal and four academic department chairpersons spent a full year making plans and hiring teachers in anticipation of the September 1957 opening of Niskayuna High School.

This new district grew rapidly, from nearly 2,400 students in the year of its founding to more than 4,100 a decade later. By the time the 1960s were out, the community had decided to build another elementary school and a second middle school — bringing district buildings to the full complement it has today: five elementary schools, two middle schools, and the high school. The story of our schools is one of a community coming together to build programs, improve facilities, support students, and celebrate success.

Historical Booklet

The district’s history is chronicled in a 72-page booklet that was created to commemorate the district’s 60th anniversary. The booklet contains a historical narrative of the district and each school, key accomplishments, comprehensive historical timeline, and a listing of Board of Education members for each year dating back to the founding of the district. Published in June 2014, copies of this booklet are available to anyone who would like one. If you would like to obtain this historical booklet, please contact the Communications Office at (518) 377-4666, ext. 50707 or by e-mail at communications@niskyschools.org.

Timeline: Key Moments in District History

June 9, 1953
Voters from the Van Antwerp, Rexford, Alplaus, Niskayuna Number Four, and Craig school districts support centralization (1,992 in support and 249 opposed).

July 1, 1953
The new school district is officially formed.

June 22, 1954
Board of Education proposes to build three elementary schools: a 14-room school in the Van Antwerp area, a seven-room school in the Niskayuna Four area, and a seven-room elementary school in the Alplaus-Rexford area. Plans include a one-room addition to Craig School. Eighty-eight percent of residents voting support this bond issue.

November 1954
Voter referendum to build high school in Niskayuna passes.

September 1956
Birchwood, Rosendale and Glencliff elementary schools open.

September 1957
Niskayuna High School opens.

September 1963
Hillside Elementary School opens.

September 1969
Iroquois Middle School opens.

December 18, 1972
Resolution passes giving the District its official name: “The Niskayuna Central School District.”

June 1977
Birchwood Elementary School closed due to declining enrollment.

July 1982
Van Antwerp Middle School closed.

June 1983
Niskayuna High School named “School of Excellence” — one of top five schools in New York and one of top 79 high schools in the United States — during the first year of the federal School of Excellence Program.

October 1987
Referendum to improve facilities passed by voters. Classroom additions were made to Hillside, Rosendale, and Glencliff. Improvements at the high school included a library addition, new gym, art gallery, and athletic field renovations.

December 1990
Referendum to reopen Birchwood and Van Antwerp schools passed by voters; The two buildings reopen in September 1992.

April 1, 1993
Mission statement for district programs adopted.

December 1993
Superintendent Briggs McAndrews presents “Blueprint For the Future.”

February 1995
Bond issue vote passes, enabling the purchase of computers for the elementary schools and high schools and wiring and networking for computers at all the schools. Also included were interior renovations at Van Antwerp and Hillside, and a track and bleachers at the high school.

June 1999
Bond issue proposal for $12,719,054 passes. Work includes addition of a swimming pool and fitness center at the high school, technology improvements and renovations throughout the District.

October 1999
Niskayuna High School listed as one of Ten Best High Schools in the United States in the Wall Street Journal.

March 2002
Board votes to redistrict areas of three elementary schools.

September 2003
Swimming pool and fitness center at the high school completed, opens for school and public use.

Niskayuna’s Latin Program is named the top program in New York by the Classical Association of the Empire State.

February 2005
Residents approve a historic $99.5 million building project to transform and modernize every school in the District, adding classrooms, new spaces, security improvements, as well as replacing aging building systems and infrastructure.

November 2010
Niskayuna High School is rededicated in a community celebration, as the District marks the completion of the historic capital project.

September 2011
Full-day kindergarten begins in the district.

December 2012
The Board of Education establishes the Education Enrichment Fund under the umbrella of the Niskayuna Community Foundation.

March 2013
District voters approve the purchase of the facility at 1301 Hillside Avenue, which houses the transportation and operations & maintenance departments.

September 2013
The first students are welcomed to Niskayuna High School through the new International Scholars Program.

March 2015
The Board establishes a series of elementary “flex” zones for school enrollment to help balance elementary class sizes across the five schools.

Spring 2016
The Board approves a strategic plan that calls for three major areas of focus: Curriculum & Programs; Environment & Culture; and Partnerships.