North Shore school district budgets for the upcoming school year show a wide disparity in spending per pupil ranging from more than $45,000 to less than $23,000, according to an analysis by Blank Slate Media
The Floral Park-Bellerose school district allocated the least amount of funding per student, $22,466 for its 1,603 students.
The North Shore school district allocated $45,601 for its 2,543 students, the most among the districts.
The East Williston School District, which has the second-fewest enrolled students,will spend the second-highest per pupil at $41,192, according to the statistics.
Great Neck will spend $39,539 per pupil, Roslyn $38,804, Mineola $36,559, Manhasset $34,193, Port Washington $32,994, Herricks $30,023, Sewanhaka $28,260 and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park the second-lowest per pupil with $27,043, according to statistics.
Despite having 1,400 fewer students than the Sewanhaka School District’s 8,045 students the Great Neck School District will outspend Sewanhaka by about $35 million – $261.4 million to $227.4 million – for the 2022-23 school year.
Blank Slate’s study analyzed enrollment figures and budget expenditures for the 11 public school districts throughout the North Shore of Nassau County (East Williston, Floral Park-Bellerose, Great Neck, Herricks, Manhasset, Mineola, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park, North Shore, Port Washington, Roslyn and Sewanhaka).
The analysis did not take into account property tax values, special education programs, adult education programs, English as new or secondary language programs, or other external factors aside from the overall budget and how many students were enrolled in the district.
The analysis examined approved 2022-23 budgets based on preliminary enrollment figures for 2021-22. The average enrollment for the analyzed school districts was 3,706 students, an increase of 74 from the 2020-21 enrollment figures, according to the statistics.
As a result, school districts throughout the North Shore increased their average spending per pupil by $230, according to the statistics and the approved 2021-22 budgets.
North Shore’s budget, which had the highest per-student spending, has increased by more than $7 million from the 2019-20 budget, despite enrollment decreasing by five students since the 2018-19 school year.
A new settlement between Nassau County and the Long Island Power Authority could result in North Shore district residents paying higher taxes. According to the settlement, the taxes on the power authority’s Glenwood Landing plant, which helps fund the4 district’s budget, will be reduced by around $29 million.
The North Shore district, according to officials, receives 28 percent of its annual tax revenue from the Long Island Power Authority. North Shore Interim Superintendent Tom Dolan said the district is in continuous communication with the county administration and the settlement “represents an area of great concern to the district and the entire community.”
Alan Singer, a professor of education and history at Hofstra University, said other districts should be taking notes from the Great Neck School District if they want to see their funds be put to the best possible use.
“The amount of money they spend on kids in their school districts, that’s the amount of money that should be spent on every kid in every school in the New York metropolitan area,” Singer said in a phone interview.
If recognition in various rankings is the metric to gauge how effective a school district’s budget is, Great Neck has certainly justified its spending to residents, being recognized as the top school district in New York by Niche in 2021. Niche, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is an online company that ranks schools and colleges, as well as other categories.
Aside from Great Neck, other area school districts that were featured on the Niche list were Roslyn (No. 3), Manhasset (6), Herricks (7), North Shore Central (17), East Williston (24) and Port Washington (25). The Mineola school district came in as the 122nd ranked district on the list.
Nationally, the Great Neck school district was ranked as the third-best district, with Roslyn (No. 7), Manhasset (19), Herricks (29), North Shore Central (69), East Williston (96) and Port Washington (100) also featured in the list of the top 100 school districts.
Singer said having reputable teachers who want to stay in a successful district is another driving factor as to why budgets in prominent school districts can increase.
“One of the things that happen with school budgets is that when you have a high-performing faculty that remains, their salaries go up in increments,” Singer said. “They stay because they like teaching in your schools and because the students are doing well, so the cost goes up.”
In a district like East Williston, which only has seven more students enrolled than Floral Park-Bellerose, Singer said it comes down to offering students electives and small classes.
Schools should be budgeting to provide students with mental health resources so they can properly address what they experienced throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he added.