Education

Student Enrollment Expected to Decline Over Next 10 years

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NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— With the upcoming school budget season just around the corner, the North Salem School District announced the findings of a new report which looked at student enrollment from 2006-2016 and offered projections for the next 10 years. 

The report was compiled by the Western Suffolk BOCES office of School Planning and Research to assist the district with its enrollment projections through the year 2026.

Those who researched the report were given access to district records as part of their study. They also incorporated a wide range of data nationally including the Bureau of Labor Statistics,Trulia, The National Center for Education Statistics,The U.S. Census Bureau and The New York State Education Department as well as information from the planning departments of Southeast, Somers, North Salem and the Town of Carmel.

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The report concluded that The North Salem Central School District is expected to experience a decrease in K-12 enrollment between 2017-2026, due to declining births and housing factors.

The analysis found the number of births in the North Salem Central School District ranged between 55-91 per year between 2002-2009. However, in four of the five years between 2010 and 2014, there were 47 or less fewer births recorded per year. Data for 2015 is still incomplete.

The report also took a look at housing factors within the town. It found the total number of home sales in the North Salem School District declined in 2015. Sixty-nine homes were sold, a decrease of 11.5 percent from the previous year, and a decrease of nearly 46 percent from 2005 when 127 homes were sold.

The median price of a home in North Salem in 2015 was $474,880, down from $532,000 in 2014 and $724,000 in 2006.

Area planning departments including the Towns of Carmel, Somers, Southeast and North Salem were contacted regarding the status of current building projects as part of the study, including new developments that might be before planning boards.

No new projects were reported in Carmel and Somers while three proposed housing projects in North Salem, Gilport, Hawley Woods and Highgate Woodlands (an over-55 community) were still under review.

Non-public school enrollment was also considered in the report. In North Salem, 54 students, or 4.7 percent, attended private schools in 2016, which was consistent with the 3.9-8.3 percent range since 2006.

Between 2006 and 2016, student enrollment decreased by 264 students, or 19.3 percent. All grades from K-12 saw decreases.

The projections for 2016-2021 forecast that the elementary and middle grades (sixth through eighth) are likely to remain stable, while high school grades are expected to lose students. By 2026, the North Salem Central School District is expected to see a drop of 127 students, or 11.5 percent.

The report found enrollment is expected to continue to decrease during the next 10 years. It will peak in 2017 and then see a decrease through 2026 with a total of 980 students expected to be enrolled. That’s a loss of 127, or 11.5 percent compared to current enrollment.

Student enrollment is expected to peak in 2017, with the district seeing its highest number of students through 2026  in grades 6-8, 9-12 and K-12 overall. Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Freeston called it “the baby bump from Hurricane Sandy,” which occurred in 2012.

Freeston said work on the 2017-2018 budget will begin in January. He said the preliminary estimated levy cap is 1%.

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