Regional Enrollment Continues to Decline

Enrollment in the 2015-16 school year declined almost 2% over last year in the 18 school districts of western Suffolk County, continuing the downward trend that began in 2005. According to Western Suffolk BOCES’ recently released Demographic Study of these districts, public school enrollment in the towns of Babylon, Huntington, and Smithtown declined 8.3% in the past six years. In 2009, these districts enrolled 89,158 students while this school year, 81,787 are enrolled.

Overall regional enrollment is projected to further decline by 5,238 students (6.4%) over the next three years; smaller decreases are projected in the elementary and middle grades when compared to the last six years, while greater losses are expected in the high school grades as smaller cohorts progress through the system.

Between 2009 and 2015, Amityville, Copiague, and Wyandanch school districts gained enrollment while enrollment remained stable in Huntington and South Huntington. The other 13 districts experienced declines in their student enrollment. Only Wyandanch experienced growth this school year.

Suffolk County births have declined during the last two decades, dropping from 21,252 in 1990 to 15,535 in 2014 (preliminary data). During the six-year study period, kindergarten enrollment declined 16.6%. This has significantly impacted district enrollments as smaller kindergarten classes have replaced larger exiting twelfth grade classes each year since 2007 according to data in previous demographic studies that BOCES conducted.

Gains or losses in school enrollment are also reflective of housing activity. The study cites records between 2009 and 2014 that show an increase in housing sales in the three towns—Babylon by 26.5%, Smithtown by 19.2% and Huntington by 27.8%.

When comparing the number of units sold in the most recent data from 2013 to 2014, however, Huntington sales declined by 9.1% and Smithtown declined by 9.2%, while Babylon recorded an increase of 1.5%. The median sale price remained stable in Huntington and Smithtown between 2013 and 2014, while Babylon recorded a 3.6% increase during this period. Although there are indications that the market is stabilizing, housing turnover remains at a lower level when compared to the mid-2000’s.

Among the major projections in the study for enrollment between 2015 and 2018:

  • The elementary (K – 5) enrollment is projected to decline by 7.1% over the next three years, with a decrease of 2,397 students.
  • The middle school (6 – 8) enrollment is projected to decline by 6.3% over the next three years, with a decrease of 1,219 students.
  • The secondary (9 – 12) enrollment is projected to decline by 5.7%, or 1,575 students.

During the past five years, the Western Suffolk BOCES Office of School Planning & Research has conducted more than 160 planning studies for school districts on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley region. Comprehensive Long Range Planning Studies include analysis of demographic factors that have influenced historical enrollment or have the potential to impact future enrollment. These factors include population, births, housing, the economy and non-public school attendance.

Enrollment data by district and grade level for 2009 to 2015 and the projected enrollment figures for 2016 through 2018 are available in the full study, Western Suffolk BOCES Regional Public School Enrollment, 2009-2018.

For more information, contact:

Western Suffolk BOCES, Division of Instructional Support Services

Angelique Johnson-Dingle, Divisional Director

Office of School Planning & Research, Barbara Graziano, Manager

Phone: (631) 595-6802