Board of Education Launches Year-Long Study to Consider Future Redistricting
Smithtown schools see declining kindergarten enrollment; fewer students could lead to closures or redistricting.
"We do not anticipate a redistricting that would yield a significant savings for the 2014-15 budget cycle," said Theresa Knox, vice president of Smithtown's Board of Education on Tuesday night.
Knox, also the board's Housing Committee chairperson, announced the district will launch a year-long demographics study to consider different options including redistricting or consolidating to save money.
One possibility that's been discussed, according to Knox, is bringing sixth-grade students back to the elementary schools and closing one of Smithtown's three middle school buildings.
Smithtown Central School District has been seeing declining enrollment in its kindergarten classes and overall student population for several years.
According to the information provided to New York State Education Department, Smithown schools had 757 registered kindergarten students for the 2009-10 school year, which dropped to 653 by 2011-12 school year. As of Nov. 22, 2013, it has further dropped to 569 kindergarten students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, according to figures provided by Superintendent Judith Elias.
Similarly, Smithtown's overall student population has dropped from 10,862 in 2009-10 to a current total of 10,048 - a decline of roughly 7 percent over five years.
Knox said by March the district's Housing Committee will be interviewing consultants to help loo over the demographics and determine the best course of action.
"By June, we should know whether this reduction in the elementary population is holding and demographic experts and realtors expect we're going to see it fold, or are we doing to see a bump," Knox said, as kindergarten registration for 2014-15 year is underway.
Smithtown Board of Education unanimously voted to close Nesconset Elementary School in June 2012 in order to help the district's fiscally by providing roughly $1 million in savings. This changed some of the district's feeder patterns for elementary and middle school students.
Jennifer Bradshaw, assistant superintendent of curriculum, suggested the district start by reaching out to Western Suffolk BOCES consultants and ABS Data Services in New Jersey.
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