Enrollment projections for Great Neck schools back need for additional classrooms

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Dr. Stephen C. Lando of the Great Neck Public Schools District presented his projections for the upcoming school years at Monday's Board of Education meeting. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

Projections of enrollment for the Great Neck Public Schools reenforce the need for  additional classrooms at two elementary schools, officials said.

New enrollment projections were presented Monday at a Board of Education meeting by Stephen C. Lando, assistant superintendent of secondary education.

According to Lando, he used a “cohort survival method” to come up with more accurate  projections. The method is a projection of future populations based on the existing population and births that will occur over a five-year period.

Lando updated his projections using this method after the Board of Education unanimously approved a change to the district’s optional attendance zone last year. 

The optional attendance zone was implemented by the board over 10 years ago in an attempt to combat overcrowding and to balance student enrollment in secondary schools.

This allowed students from E.M. Baker and Saddle Rock elementary schools, which are normally zoned for South High School, to exercise the option to attend North Middle or North High School instead.  

In January 2018, the board adopted a change that allows only students entering sixth-grade and residing within the optional attendance zone to attend North Middle School instead of South Middle School. Any other request for a school assignment that differs from a student’s designated attendance zone will only be considered through the variance process.

“The optional attendance zone has alleviated overcrowding and equalized enrollment in our secondary schools,” Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz said. “The optional attendance zone continues to be in the best interest of our students.”

The data represents actual enrollments for the senior Class of 2020 through the Class of 2032, this year’s kindergarten class. According to Lando’s projections, the district anticipates enrollments throughout all public schools will grow by about 40 students per year over the next five years.

North High School was initially expecting  to accommodate over 1,300 students in the 2022-23 school year.  Now, North’s population does not look to exceed 1,300 even with a projected spike going into the 2024-25 school year. 

South High School is projected to have an increase of students, with a total population just above 1,300 students by the 2024-25 school year, but has the resources to accommodate  that number. 

While the middle and high schools look to have sufficient room for incoming students, the projections point to a need for more classrooms at Lakeville and E.M. Baker elementary schools, according to Lando.

“The need for additional classrooms at Lakeville based on current usage was demonstrated at the October Board of Education meeting,” he said. “This data further demonstrates the need for classrooms at Baker to accommodate a population that will exceed 700 students.”

The five-year projection in 2017 saw E.M. Baker anticipating roughly 675 students in the 2022-23 school year.  In Lando’s most recent projection, that number increases by almost 50 students.

“Based on these projections, we should all be pleased in the due diligence that was taken into consideration for the upcoming school years,” Lando said. “The board should advise residents that it maintains its prerogative to place new housing into attendance zones based on the ability of our schools to accommodate increases in their student populations.”

The proposed additions include two new classrooms in the back of Lakeville and six new classrooms at E.M. Baker.

Voting on the additions will occur from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 3 at four polling sites, E.M. Baker, Lakeville, Saddle Rock and South High schools.

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