The New York State Education Department website shows the lowest number of students enrolled in New York public and charter schools this school year in more than 70 years.
A recent preliminary enrollment report for the 2023-24 school year shows that four of the state’s largest districts — Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo — saw enrollment drops.
The Oneida City School District, also seeing an enrollment drop, is looking to make adjustments as Superintendent Matthew Carpenter cites fiscal challenges.
"The bulk of the budget, 75% or more of a budget, is based upon the personnel that you have in district," he said. "And therefore, we've got to look at how we're being responsible to the community. How are we offering programs and systems for kids, but also thinking about not really increasing taxes and trying to keep things stable for our community.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposed a $35.3 billion school aid package for 2024-2025, which includes a 2.1% increase, or a $507 million increase, in Foundation Aid, the primary school funding formula. The budget office, though, is proposing a change in foundation aid that looks to even out disbursement between wealthier and poorer districts.
“In a lot of these districts, and there's more than 300 across the state that would see a cut in foundation aid year over year, most of these districts are average and high-need districts. You know, they're not in situations that they're wholly comfortable right now,” said Brian Fessler, a spokesperson for the New York State School Boards Association. "They're seeing loss of population loss of enrollment. They don't have an incredibly healthy tax base to tap into, even if there wasn't the tax cap that you have to work around."
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly labeled the New York state Board of Education as the New York State School Boards Association. It has since been amended.