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Northport-East Northport schools face decade of declining enrollment, study finds

Northport High School, part of the Northport-East Northport

Northport High School, part of the Northport-East Northport School District, is seen here on July 24, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Amanda Ostuni

The Northport-East Northport school district faces a nearly 28 percent enrollment decline over the next 10 years, raising questions about the district's future, according to a study by Western Suffolk BOCES.

The study projects the district to be down to 4,111 students by 2024.

Over the past decade, from 2004 to 2014, enrollment declined more than 12 percent, from 6,475 students to 5,688, according to the study by the Board of Coorperative Educational Services' Office of School Planning Research and provided to the district in February.

That data will have officials considering factors such as staffing, programming and intervention services as they develop budgets, said Superintendent Robert Banzer, who replaced interim Superintendent Thomas Caramore on July 1.

"It is a concern," Banzer said. "Because it's one factor in everything you're trying to do to provide the resources to run your educational program."

Banzer said it's too soon to know how staffing and district offerings will be affected by enrollment changes. Other factors include the state tax cap, unfunded mandates and new measures to track student performance.

"There are a lot of districts going through a similar situation across the state, so some of this is bigger than just the district," Banzer said.

Public school enrollment on Long Island has declined by 3.9 percent since 2008, decreasing 2.4 percent in Nassau County and 5 percent in Suffolk County, according to a separate report in April by the Western Suffolk BOCES.

A March report on the Western Suffolk BOCES region found enrollment fell from 2008 to 2014 in 12 of its 18 districts, with the most significant declines being 13.4 percent in Commack and 13.3 percent in Kings Park.

Enrollment increased in Huntington, Copiague and Wyandanch. It remained stable in Amityville, North Babylon and South Huntington.

The Northport study found the decline driven by lower birthrates and compounded by sluggish housing sales and a lack of new housing.

Enrollment directly correlates with how much state aid a district receives. Northport-East Northport receives $1,928.68 from the state for each student and $11.3 million annually, Banzer said.

"We're going to do everything we can to maintain the level of programming and the quality of teaching and learning that takes place in this district," he said.

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