The Manhasset and Great Neck school districts, which both have nationally ranked high schools, had the two highest median home sale values in Nassau County last year, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics that Oxford Realty agents compiled.
At $1.6 million, Manhasset school district’s median home sale value was the highest in Nassau County and was second Long Island-wide only to the Quogue school district in Suffolk County.
Next in Nassau County were Great Neck at $1.2 million, East Williston at $1.15 million, Jericho at $1.05 million, Roslyn at $1.04 million and Port Washington at $982,634, according to the statistics listed on the new website NY Long Island real estate.
Herricks, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park, Floral Park-Bellerose and Mineola had median sales prices of $840,708, $653,724, $612,727 and $592,271 respectively. The website did not include Sewanhaka.
The perceived quality of a school district tends to be the most significant determinant in where Long Islanders choose to live, said Mitchell Pally, the CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, which unites members of the building industry.
“The home values go directly up and down depending upon the perception of the quality of the school district,” he said. “That’s why we have so many school districts, so that values can go up and down based on it.”
Across the island, that plays out as de facto school segregation.
“When there’s a lack of affordable housing throughout Long Island and you put it all in a few areas, those areas have poor services, and that’s about the schools,” said Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, which advocates for educational justice.
The lowest performing districts are all in communities of color, she said.
Hempstead’s median home sale value was the lowest listed for the county: $321,263. In the school district, 97 percent of students are black or Latino. In the Garden City school district, which had a median home sale value of $941,138, the student body is 88 percent white.
“You can’t by law try to pack students of one race or ethnicity into a particular school in the corner of the district,” said Lawrence Levy, the executive dean of Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies. “You can have all minority Hempstead [school district] next to white Garden City.”
Disparities in home sales also play out as disparities in funding for school programs because budgets rely heavily on property taxes.
Freeport school district, with a median home sale value of $379,624, spends $5,200 less per student than the Nassau County average, according to the district.
Before New York instituted a 2 percent tax cap, lower-income communities were routinely voting down their budgets because they couldn’t afford to fund them, Tyson said.
Now to avoid piercing the tax cap, districts find areas where they can cut funding, she said.
“Art and music – those are one of the first things to be taken out of the school,” Tyson said. “Many districts just have one art teacher rolling around a cart. It’s also about having school counselors. Those are the differences in the schools that have more resources and the schools that don’t.”
Manhasset school district’s median home sale value of $1.6 million was close to three times that of the Mineola school district’s: $592,271.
Their proposed 2019-20 budgets total nearly the same figure, with Manhasset at $99.49 million and Mineola at $99.95 million. That equates to about $30,464 per pupil in Manhasset and $34,467 in Mineola.
Mineola’s schools, however, get sixes and sevens out of 10 on their greatschools.org rating while Manhasset’s get all nines. U.S. News & World Report ranks Mineola High School 4,509th nationally while Manhasset Secondary School is 228th.
The average SAT score in Manhasset was 1803 while in Mineola it was 1453, according to 2015-16 Newsday data, the most recent Newsday has published.
“Even people without children recognize that the value of their purchase is likely to remain stronger or more secure if the school district is viewed as strong,” Pally said.
In Manhasset, 9 percent of students are black or Latino, according to statistics on nylongislandrealestate.com. In Mineola, 30 percent are.
The cycle of wealthy families moving to highly ranked school districts that then remain the most funded is one Pally said he expects to continue. Home values in those districts will continue to increase, he said.
“I don’t think there’ll be any change until Long Island decides to have less school districts than it does golf courses,” he said.