North Shore schools see mixed picture of student enrollment

North Shore schools see mixed picture of student enrollment
New Hyde Park Road School, one of the schools located in New Hyde Park-Garden City Union Free School District. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

School districts on Long Island’s North Shore have seen drops in enrollment in the past decade, nearly amounting to double-digit percentage drops in their student populations at some of the schools, but some are still seeing increases of the opposite degree.

Blank Slate Media analyzed the enrollment of the 13 North Shore schools based on data from the New York State Department of Education.

Of the 13 school districts on the North Shore, slightly more than half have seen drops in their enrollment since 2012.

The seven school districts recording decreases in enrollment are Carle Place down 8.9%, East Williston 8.2%, Manhasset 8.1%, Sewanhaka 6.1%, Westbury 2.7%, Glen Cove  2.1% and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park 0.8%.

Six school districts, though, experienced growth in their student populations over the decade.

North Shore school districts with a growing enrollment are Port Washington up 2.2%, Roslyn 2.8%, Great Neck 3.6%, Mineola 6.1%, Floral Park-Bellerose 8.6% and Herricks with the highest increase of 12.8%.

The total enrollment of the 13 North Shore school districts has dropped marginally with a  0.05% decrease, amounting to nearly 25 fewer students over the decade.

The decline in enrollment for North Shore schools follows a larger trend in school districts across Long Island and New York State seeing a decrease in their student populations.

Newsday reported that 76% of Long Island school districts saw drops in their enrollment from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2022-2023 school year. Of North Shore school districts, 53.8% had decreases in student enrollment.

Overall, Newsday reported that student enrollment dropped by 7.33% across the Island with Suffolk County recording a decline of 10.5% compared to Nassau County’s smaller decrease of 3.3%.

School enrollment has become a key issue in the governor’s proposed budget and subsequent state aid to schools.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2025 budget proposal includes an allocation of $35.3 billion in state school aid. This is an increase of $825 million from the prior budget, or a rise of 2.4%, amounting to the highest proposal for school funding in the state’s history.

The $825 million proposed increase from budget to budget encompasses a ​​$507 million rise for Foundation Aid – the state’s main education operating aid formula that is based on equity. The remaining $318 million increase is attributed to all other school aid programs.

The state’s foundation aid has historically included a hold harmless protocol, which ensures school districts either receive the same or more foundation aid from year to year, but would be removed in this proposed budget.

This has led to pushback from North Shore schools facing drops in their foundation aid and Long Island Republicans backing the schools.

Of the school districts seeing increases in their student enrollment over the past 10 years, Port Washington is the only one where the governor’s budget proposal would lower their  state aid for the 2024-2025 school year. The school’s administration has reported continued growth in their student population during the current school year.

The three North Shore districts slated to receive a decrease in their state aid in 2024-2025 are the New Hyde Park-Garden City Union Free School District, Port Washington Union Free School District and Mineola Union Free School District.

​​New Hyde Park-Garden City is facing the biggest cut in state aid on the North Shore, with a proposed 2.13% decrease.

Of the three districts facing a proposed decrease, Port Washington would receive the biggest allocation at $20,858,822. This is a 0.61%, or $127,308 decrease, from the prior year, which saw Port receive $20,986,130 in state aid – the third highest allocation of the North Shore schools.

In the 2023-2024 budget, Port got a 42.25% bump in its state aid when it jumped by more than $6 million from $14,752,285 in 2022-2023.

Amid the scrutiny, State Division of Budget Director Blake Washington defended the governor’s proposal and in part justified it due to the state’s declining enrollment trend of about 10% since 2014.

​​“Instead of asking the question ‘How much more money are our schools getting?’ it should be ‘Why do we have a formula that forces us to pay for students that don’t exist?’” Washington wrote in an op-ed. “These are the hard conversations where the governor is trying to inject common sense as we engage with districts, families, the Legislature, and stakeholders in this upcoming budget. Only then can we find real, sustainable solutions that New York taxpayers rely on while also ensuring our teachers get the resources they need to educate the next generation of New Yorkers.”

The New York State aid formula for schools is based on factors that evaluate enrollment, student needs and district wealth.

Washington said the hold harmless initiative disregards district wealth, student needs or population changes and opposes the foundation aid formula as it limits state resources for high-need or growing school districts.

“At a time when hard decisions are required to close a significant budget gap, these factors must be part of the equation,” Washington wrote.

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