The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school district is now registering new students through its central office rather than its four elementary schools, district officials said Monday.
The change aims to streamline the registration process and provide better safeguards to ensure students living outside the district do not get registered, Superintendent Jennifer Morrison said.
“We don’t want to exclude people and children; we just want to make sure that they live here,” Morrison said after Monday’s school board meeting.
As of Monday, parents must make an appointment with the central office at the Manor Oaks School to register children rather than walk into their designated school unannounced, a process that left “room for error,” Morrison said.
The change will make the process easier for students and staff, allowing secretaries to give more attention to each registration application, Morrison said. An additional nurse and secretary will be on hand to help, she said.
Each school will be assigned a week in January during which incoming kindergartners will be registered through the central office, Morrison said.
District officials have also revised the 30-page registration packet to ask for additional information that will help determine residency in the district, Morrison said.
The district has considered adopting this centralized registration process for several years amid continued concerns about nonresident students registering illegally, school board Trustee David Del Santo said.
Additional students can increase class sizes, which could require the district to hire extra staff and find extra space, Del Santo said.
“We can’t afford to educate folks that don’t live here,” he said.
Morrison said she could not estimate the number of nonresident students attending district schools because officials are “really just starting to hone in on it now.”
Nonresident students have long been a concern in New Hyde Park-Garden City Park because of the district’s proximity to Nassau County’s border with Queens, Del Santo said.
The district’s part-time attendance officer conducts surveillance to investigate the residency of students whom officials suspect might not be residents, Morrison said.
Del Santo was hired as the district’s investigator in 2003 and used to screen applications at each elementary school, he said. But the position’s role was diminished around 2005, when priorities changed under a new administration, he said.
The change has so far gotten positive feedback from parents, Morrison said.
“I think it’s just going to be so streamlined,” Morrison said. “It makes it so much easier for all parties involved.”
The district hopes to have all new students registered for the coming school year by Aug. 31, but by law officials must register any new student who enters the district as soon as possible, Morrison said.