The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District (commonly shortened to “Ken-Ton”) encompasses the vast majority of the Town of Tonawanda and all of the Village of Kenmore. With strong institutional traditions and a long and proud history going back more than 125 years, the Ken-Ton School District continues to define itself through the passion and dedication of its students, parents, staff, administrators, Board of Education, community, and alumni. In academics, music, art, athletics, and other competitive pursuits, Ken-Ton students earn countless distinctions, awards, and honors and exemplify the outstanding quality of the programs and schools they represent.
The success of the Ken-Ton School District is founded upon its staff, many of whom not only live in Ken-Ton, but grew up in the community and count themselves among the district’s proud alumni. Ken-Ton has fostered a world-class teaching staff through an innovative and comprehensive framework of mentoring, coaching, and staff development. A significant number of Ken-Ton teachers have earned National Board Certification, which is considered to be the gold standard in teaching, and many staff have been distinguished at the regional level and beyond for demonstrating excellence in their professions.
The Ken-Ton School District prides itself on its exceptional K-12 music and art programs, a comprehensive framework for social-emotional success, and extensive high school offerings including the International Baccalaurate (IB) Program, CTE-certified Career Academies, Project Lead the Way pre-engineering curriculum, art career pathways, Honors/AP programs, and the innovative Big Picture non-traditional high school program.
Ken-Ton School District alumni include two national TV news anchors, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, a former Skylab astronaut, the former president and CEO of Dunkin' Brands, and individuals who have achieved the highest levels of success in their careers, from professional athletes, actors, comedians, and musicians to business leaders, doctors, engineers, and educators.
By the Numbers:
- With approximately 6,650 K-12 students and 225 Pre-K students, Ken-Ton is the 4th largest school district in the eight counties of Western New York (exceeded only by the Buffalo, Williamsville, and Niagara Falls school districts), and the 18th largest of 510 school districts in Upstate New York. The district encompasses 17.1 square miles, representing most of the Town of Tonawanda and the Village of Kenmore, with a population of approximately 67,284.
- Ken-Ton is among the tiny fraction of the nation’s 14,000 school districts to be distinguished as a Best Community for Music Education, and has been each year for the past 9 years. The district’s art programs are widely regarded in the professional arts community as among the best in the region.
- The district is known for its extensive high school offerings. Kenmore East and Kenmore West are 2 of only 4 International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the 8 counties of Western New York. Both high schools offer 4 NYS-certified CTE programs as part of its Career Academies, as well as the international Project Lead the Way pre-engineering curriculum and 2 art career pathways.
- With a long history of athletic achievement, the Ken-Ton Athletics Department oversees 46 varsity sports during the fall, winter, and spring seasons. During the 2018-19 school year, a total of 26 graduating Kenmore East and Kenmore West seniors were celebrated for signing their intent to compete at the collegiate level. Ken-Ton teams and athletes achieve numerous distinctions each year in the Niagara Frontier League, Section VI, and at the state level, including, most recently, the 2019 Section VI Class A Baseball Championship (Kenmore West).
- The Ken-Ton School District is among the districts in New York State with the highest number of National Board Certified teachers, and one of the highest percentages – if not the highest percentage – of its teaching staff who have earned this distinction in the Far West Region. As of 2019, a total of 23 current or recently retired Ken-Ton teachers have earned National Board Certification, considered to be the gold-standard in teaching.
- Ken-Ton’s innovative Big Picture Program, a non-traditional high school program and the only program of its kind in Western New York, has helped guide its students to graduation with a 94% graduation rate as of 2018. The Big Picture Program is distinguished by its small class advisories, individualized project-based approach to learning, and internship experiences. The program includes approximately 75 students in grades 8-12.
- More than $100 million has been invested in school buildings, middle school/high school auditoriums, and athletic facilities through the 2009 and 2014 capital projects. Another capital project is currently being planned.
What is a "Union Free School District"?
The designation "Union Free School District" goes back to the 19th Century, when school districts in New York State were authorized by the State Legislature to operate elementary schools up to eighth grade but were not authorized to operate high schools. In 1853, the State Legislature authorized two or more districts to join together (thus forming a "union" between the districts) and operate a high school (thus "free" of the previous restrictions). These were called "Union Free School Districts."
In 1908, New York State certified the Village of Kenmore's first elementary school, School #6 or Kenmore Union School, as an academic institution of the Union School District No. 1 of the Town of Tonawanda. This later became Union Free School District No. 1 after the construction of the district's first high school, Kenmore High School, in 1911. Schools operated under this name until 1973 when the name was formally changed to “Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District.” Learn more about the history of the Ken-Ton School District at www.ktufsd.org/OurStory.