LI school districts start new year

Students at Drexel Avenue School sit waiting to Students at Drexel Avenue School sit waiting to disembark from the school bus to start their first day of class in Westbury, NY. (Aug. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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SCHOOL OPENINGSSixty-two Long Island districts start classes Tuesday, followed by 51 districts on Wednesday. Thursday openings are scheduled in Babylon, Levittown, Oysterponds and Tuckahoe. Seven districts opened last week.

ENROLLMENTSPublic-school enrollments in grades K-12 are expected to drop 1 percent from last year, to 445,891. This would continue a gradual decline that began seven years ago. Demographers at Western Suffolk BOCES predict the trend will continue, with an additional 2.4 percent enrollment loss over the next two years.

DISTRICT FINANCESAll Island districts open the year with voter-approved budgets. Most districts held property-tax increases to record lows under new state restrictions known as tax caps. Ten districts -- half of them in the East End -- will exceed the state's cap limitations, because their budgets were approved by "super majorities" of 60 percent or higher of those voting.

ACADEMIC CHANGESSchools will introduce new anti-bullying measures, as well as classroom lessons based on a new national Common Core curriculum. In addition, many teachers will be reviewing their first-ever job ratings from the state, based on students' improvement on standardized tests.

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TEACHER CONTRACTSTeachers at Riverhead Charter School are going into their fourth year without a union contract, according to regional representatives of the New York State United Teachers union. Teachers in Roosevelt, Springs and Wyandanch are starting their third year without an agreement. Eighteen union locals are entering a second year without contracts, while 16 had agreements that expired in June.

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