Long Island ranked second to the Mid-Hudson Valley among nine regions statewide in spending on public education, but was the leader in the percentage of high school graduates and those going on to a four-year college, according to a regional education report released Friday.
The findings by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli covered the 2014-15 school year and excluded New York City.
“Investments in New York’s public schools are vital at both the state and local level,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “By examining regional comparisons and trends in school district revenues, expenditures and student demographics, we can better inform the decisions of state lawmakers, education stakeholders and taxpayers.”
The report looked at nine regions across the state, including Long Island, the Mid-Hudson Valley and the Capital District of Albany and the surrounding area. It also tallied statewide figures and averages.
The categories examined included revenue and expenditure growth, declining numbers of students, district wealth, student characteristics, student outcomes, school safety and the condition of school buildings.
Long Island ranked first among the nine regions in the proportion of students with limited English proficiency, at 7 percent.
Nassau BOCES Superintendent Robert Dillon, asked about the report, said that educating the influx of immigrants in some Nassau districts, such as Hempstead, Freeport and Westbury, presents a challenge. Many of the children and teenagers are from Central American countries.
“It costs. It is labor-intensive,” Dillon said. “You have to provide for these kids so they can get up to speed, while you are being judged for academic excellence as a district.”
Among the other findings for Long Island in the comptroller’s report:
- Total spending from the 2004-05 school year through 2014-15 rose 43.4 percent in current dollars and 18.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.
- Enrollment in the region showed less of a decline than that of the state as a whole, dropping 4.6 percent over that time. Statewide, enrollment dropped 7.6 percent.
- In aggregate, Long Island relies most on property taxes and other local revenues, with 68 percent of all school district revenues in the region from local sources.
- Among the nine regions in 2014-15, the Island had the highest four-year graduation rate — 90 percent — and the lowest dropout rate — 1.2 percent.
- Local schools also had the highest percentage of graduates planning on attending a four-year college, at 60 percent.
The Long Island, Mid-Hudson Valley and Capital District regions tend to be the wealthier areas statewide, based on both property and income wealth per pupil, the report said. Statewide, the median school district expenditure per pupil in 2014-15 was $22,658.
Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Valley districts generally spent a great deal more per pupil than other regions. The Mid-Hudson Valley ranked at the top, with median per-pupil spending of $26,636, followed closely by Long Island at $26,168.
The Island ranked at the bottom in the category of schools reporting violent incidents and possession of weapons.
Overall, for the 2014-15 school year statewide, districts excluding New York City reported expenditures of $37.6 billion. State aid for school districts that year amounted to $13.6 billion.
Long Island had the lowest concentration of high-need students: 30 percent were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 8.5 percent lived in poverty.
Dillon found the poverty rate troubling, voicing concern that it appears to have grown in recent years. “That is something to look out for,” he said.
LI EDUCATION STATS AND TRENDS
- Median per-pupil spending: $26,168
- Four-year graduation rate: 90.1 percent
- Students with limited English proficiency: 7 percent
- Childhood poverty rate, 2015: 8.5 percent
- 10-year enrollment decrease: -4.6 percent
Source: NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office