The changing face of North Shore school districts

The changing face of North Shore school districts
The number of Asian students enrolled in school districts throughout the North Shore has increased by more than 21% since 2015-16, according to statistics. (Photo courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

This is the second in a series on North Shore school districts

The number of white students in all 11 public school districts on the North Shore decreased since 2015, while the Asian population in most districts increased over the same time period, according to an analysis by Blank Slate Media.

The total number of white students in all 11 districts for the 2015-16 school districts was 22,249, averaging out to roughly 2,022 in each one, according to the analysis.

Statistics from the state’s education department showed that the total number of white students throughout the districts during the 2020-21 school year was 18,699, a 17% decrease from five years prior.

A total of 9,691 Asian students during the 2015-16 school year, rose by more than 21% over the next five years, accounting for 12,028 of the combined enrollment, statistics showed.

Overall enrollment throughout the 11 districts slightly decreased from 40,390 in 2015-16 to 39,954 in 2020-21, according to statistics. The only four school districts throughout the North Shore to not suffer enrollment decreases were Great Neck, Herricks, Mineola and Roslyn.

Blank Slate’s study analyzed the K-12 demographic figures during the 2015-16 and 2020-21 school years 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 statistics were provided by the New York State Education Department’s website.

The trends were reflected in detailed data from the 2020 U.S. Census, which showed that Nassau’s white, non-Hispanic population decreased by nearly 10%, while its Asian American population increased by more than 4%.

The county’s non-Hispanic white population decreased from 65.5% in 2010 to 55.8% in 2020. In 2010, Asian Americans made up 7.6% of Nassau’s population, which increased to 11.7% in 2020.

The Town of North Hempstead, which had a 5% increase in total population to more than 237,000 residents, saw similar trends.

The town’s white, non-Hispanic population decreased from 64.8% in 2010 to 53.9% in 2020, according to the data. Its Asian American population rose from 14.9% to 23% over the past decade, a 62% increase.

During the 2015-16 school year, according to statistics, white students made up an average of approximately 59% of each district’s total enrollment.

That average decreased to 49% during the 2020-21 school year. Asian students, on average, made up less than 24% of each district’s enrollment in 2015-16, increasing to 30% five years later, according to statistics.

Asian students also made up the largest group in the Great Neck School District, growing from 35.4% in 2015-16 to 44% in 2020-21, according to the statistics. Great Neck became the second school district to have a non-white demographic make up a majority of its school district enrollment.

The Herricks School District, in 2011, announced that Asian students made up 55% of its total enrollment. That trend continued over the next decade, with Asian students making up 59% of the district’s enrollment in 2015-16 and 70 percent in 2020-21, the most throughout the analyzed districts, statistics showed.

The Port Washington School District was the lone district to see a decrease in Asian enrollment during the five-year analysis, with 10 fewer students since 2015-16.

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said these trends in Nassau County are indicative of larger ones seen in suburbs across the country.

Levy said Nassau County and the North Shore, specifically, have become “magnets” for Asian Americans due to their abundance of quality education, homes and environments.

“Nassau County is giving these people what they are looking for in terms of the ‘suburban dream,’” Levy said in a phone interview. “Asian Americans have been part of literally changing the face of suburban communities all over the country.”

The prominence of Hispanic or Latino students in nine of the school districts also increased during the same five-year period, according to statistics.

The total number of Hispanic students enrolled in the analyzed districts grew from 5,178 in 2015-16 to 5,932 in 2020-21, a 13% increase.

Hispanic or Latino students, on average, made up roughly 12% of a district’s 2015-16 enrollment, with that number increasing to more than 14% five years later, according to statistics.

Census data showed the Hispanic or Latino population increased by more than 31% in Nassau County, growing from 14.6% in 2010 to 18.4% in 2020. Hispanics or Latinos made up 12.8% of the town’s population in 2010, growing by more than 20% over the past 10 years to 14.8%.

Herricks’ Hispanic or Latino enrollment decreased from 241 in 2015-16 to 215 in 2020-21, while New Hyde Park-Garden City Park’s Hispanic or Latino enrollment decreased by more than 40 students, 273 to 232, during the same time frame.

The number of Black students in eight school districts decreased during the five-year analysis. A total of 2,665 Black students were enrolled throughout all districts in 2015-16, compared to 2,261 in 2020-21, a decrease of more than 16%, according to statistics.

Black students, on average, made up nearly 4% of each district’s enrollment in 2015-16 compared to 3.5% five years later. Those averages, however, are misleading due to the overwhelming prominence of Black students enrolled throughout the Sewanhaka School District.

A total of 2,121 black students were enrolled in Sewanhaka during the 2015-16 school year, accounting for 80 percent of the entire Black population in all 11 districts.

While Sewanhaka’s black enrollment decreased to 1,764 five years later, the district alone still accounted for 78% of the total Black students throughout the North Shore in 2020-21, according to statistics.

Herricks’ Black enrollment increased from 22 to 26 students over five years and the East Williston School District saw 19 Black students enrolled in the district in 2020-21, an increase from 14 five years prior, according to statistics.

The Roslyn School District remained consistent over the five-year span, having 104 Black students enrolled throughout the district in both instances. No other school district aside from Sewanhaka had black students account for more than 4% of their total enrollment over the five-year span, statistics showed.

The Town of North Hempstead’s black population declined from 5.3% in 2010 to 4.8% in 2020, Census data showed. While data showed that Nassau County’s black population remained at 10.5% over the decade, it did increase by 4.2%.

In terms of school districts with prominent minority enrollment figures, a recent report by ERASE Racism found that “intensely segregated” school district’s throughout Long Island have, on average, $10,000 less in annual revenue per student compared to districts with predominantly white enrollment.

The organization defines an “intensely segregated” district as one with 90-100% non-white students enrolled in it, which none of the ones throughout the North Shore are.

The North Shore School District, however, had white students make up more than 75% of its 2020-21 enrollment, the most throughout the analyzed districts.

A previous analysis of school district spending per pupil, conducted by Blank Slate Media, found that the North Shore School District spent roughly $45,000 per pupil this school year, the most throughout the 11 analyzed districts.

Though a fair amount of trends presented in the report did not coincide with the analyzed districts in Blank Slate Media’s study, ERASE Racism President Elaine Gross said the differences in what resources are provided to districts with various minority enrollments are “stark.”

“There is a tendency for Long Islanders to judge the region’s educational success based on the rankings of the most successful public schools, but that leaves the vast majority of the region’s schools and students out of the equation,” Gross said in a release. 

Alan Singer, a professor of education and history at Hofstra University, said attempts to consolidate districts – a potential solution to inequitable pupil fundings based on race – have been met with “a lot of political backlash” in previous years.

Singer said consolidating smaller districts into regional districts would provide a more “integrated education and equal funding” for students, such as including the Roosevelt School District with the Bellmore-Merrick School District.

“We know there’s a large level of racial animosity on Long Island,” Singer said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “I think, politically, it will be very difficult to build these consolidated districts. It might require a court order, but it’s something that can be done. It’s something that needs to be done.”

Singer said adults should be tasked to provide children “with an experience living and working with people who are different from them.”

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