North Shore district sees $20K disparity in spending per student

North Shore district sees $20K disparity in spending per student
Spending per student on the North Shore has had little changes from the 2023-2024 school year to 2024-2025, which a $20,000 disparity remaining between the highest and lowest spending school districts. (Graph by Cameryn Oakes)

The disparity in North Shore school districts’ spending per pupil is projected to continue next school year, with a more than $20,000 difference between the highest and lowest spending districts, according to an analysis by Blank Slate Media.

The average spending of all the school districts per student is expected to rise for the next school year, surpassing the state average and New York City average by thousands.

A slew of financial pressures exacerbated by rising insurance costs and inflation plagued nearly every school district this recent budget season.

These rising costs were compounded by threats of school districts seeing drops in their state foundation aid for the first time. While districts’ foundation aid was reinstated by the state, many still reported not receiving the full amounts they had anticipated.

But school districts’ rankings for spending per student remained nearly the same from the 2023-2024 school year to 2024-2025. The range of spending tops out at $47,627 per student and falls as low as $25,233.

In each of the town’s 11 school districts, spending per student is based on student enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year provided by New York State and the district’s adopted budgets for 2024-2025.

The Town of North Hempstead’s 11 school districts will spend an average of about $36,523 per student. For 2023-2024 the average was $35,425.

The New York State average is estimated at $33,404, according to The Empire Center, a nonprofit think tank.

In 2022, the most recent year with national figures available, national spending per student averaged $15,633. This was the highest year-to-year increase as well, rising by 8.9% from 2021, which averaged $14,358 per student.

New York State nearly doubled the national average in the 2021-2022 school year with spending at $29,873 per pupil.

New York City, which has just one school district, is projected to spend $31,256 per student in 2024. This is below the average spending per student on the North Shore by more than $5,000.

According to The Empire Center, Long Island school districts are on track to spend the most per student in the state.

The North Shore School District is expected to spend $46,830 per student, the highest amount among school districts included in the Town of North Hempstead.

The North Shore School District has 2,619 students and a budget of $122,648,900. It is the fourth smallest school district on the North Shore based on enrollment and falls in the middle of the field with the sixth largest budget in North Hempstead.

While the North Shore School District remained at the top, its spending per student declined from 2023-2024. It fell by more than $1,000 from the calculated $47,627 for the 2023-2024 school year.

The district lost $2,388,670 in the 2024-2025 budget due to a settlement between Nassau County and LIPA that reduced the taxes paid on the Glenwood Landing power plant.

The district is using an increase of $80,556 in state aid to slightly offset the revenue lost in the settlement, according to a message from the superintendent.

Behind the North Shore in spending per student are East Williston (No. 2), Great Neck (No. 3), Roslyn (No. 4), Mineola (No. 5), Manhasset (No. 6), Port Washington (No. 7), Sewanhaka (No. 8), Herricks (No. 9) and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park (No. 10).

At No. 11 is the Floral-Park Bellerose School District, which will be spending $25,233 per student.

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District has the second lowest spending per student with $29,951.

Both the Floral Park-Bellerose and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school districts are only made up of elementary schools. Both also have the lowest student enrollment and smallest budgets of school districts in North Hempstead.

The East Williston School District and the Great Neck School District spend the second and third highest amounts per student, respectively.

East Williston is slated to spend $43,428 per student and Great Neck is to spend $41,324 per student.

The East Williston School District has the third-lowest student enrollment, with 1,639 students, and the third-smallest budget at $71,177,806.

The largest budget in North Hempstead is for the Great Neck School District at $281,995,500. Great Neck has 6,824 students enrolled, the second-highest enrollment in North Hempstead.

While the Port Washington School district has the third largest budget and third largest enrollment, it constitutes the fifth lowest district for spending per pupil.

Port Washington has an enrollment of 5,332 and a budget of $194,578,217. Its calculated spending per student would then be $36,493.

Port Washington was the only school district whose budget included a tax cap override. The district implemented a 4.55% tax increase, which surpassed the cap by 1.16%.

The district had to bridge a $5 million gap using its rollover budget, which was achieved through $2 million in cuts, $1 million of reserves used, and $2 million in taxes increased to balance the budget and maintain the district’s standard.

The Sewanhaka School District has the largest student population, with 7,754 enrolled, yet it spends the eighth-highest per-student amount out of 11 districts: $32,977.

Sewanhaka has the second-largest budget in the town for the 2024-2025 school year at $255,707,308.

While Herricks has the fourth-largest budget and student enrollment, its spending per student falls to the third lowest in North Hempstead.

Herricks’ budget is set at $141,710,364, and with a student enrollment of 4,447, their spending per student is $31,867.

The Manhasset School District and Mineola School District remained consistently in the middle of the field for their budgets, enrollments and spending per student.

The Manhasset School District has the seventh-largest budget at $111,286,207, the sixth-highest enrollment at 3,015 students, and the sixth-highest spending per student at $36,911.

The Mineola School district has the eighth-largest budget of $109,552,352, the seventh-largest student enrollment of 2,941, and the fifth-largest spending per student of $37,250.

Mineola’s spending per student was the only other North Shore school district to reduce its spending per student. In 2023-2024 it was calculated it would spend $38,140.

Spending per student on the North Shore mirrors almost the exact same rankings as last year, with the only change being Herricks and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park switching positions.

Last year, Herricks was ranked No. 10 in spending per student, while New Hyde Park-Garden City Park was ranked No. 9.

Roslyn, Great Neck and East Williston are ranked as the top three school districts of the North Shore in 2024 based on statistics, test scores, and district ratings. These three are also No. 2-4 of districts spending the most per student.

But Herricks falls right behind those three districts despite spending the third lowest per student. Niche ranked the district overall No. 11 in New York State.

While the North Shore School District spends the most per student on the North Shore, Niche ranked it No. 20 in the state this year, falling behind Roslyn, Great Neck, East Williston, Herricks and Manhasset.

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