RYE, N.Y. -- Enrollment in Rye schools this year has exceeded the district's projections from last year, leading to the hiring of more teachers and concern over future budgets.
District officials had projected that enrollment would fall from 3,210 students to 3,200 students. The actual number enrolled this year is 3,303, an increase of 93 students, or 2.9 percent. Middle school enrollment dropped by 15 students, but high school enrollment increased by 72 students.
Schools Superintendent Frank Alvarez said that part of the reason for the increase at the high school was that there was a smaller 12th-grade class going out and a larger class coming in. But the majority of the students who represent the enrollment increase are new to the district.
There was a lot of fluctuation during the summer, Alvarez said. "Right to the first day, when we literally had a line of kids that we were registering."
The district hired four teachers this summer to deal with the enrollment, and also increased arts and physical education time and purchased supplies for the increase in students. Alvarez said the district had actually planned on reducing the number of class sections based on projections, but that was not possible.
"This is something we need to carefully watch moving forward," Alvarez said. "If we continue this trend, we're really going to have some tough discussions come budget time about how we're going to be able to handle this, because we're actually running out of space in our schools. We are maxing out in some of our buildings in terms of class space."
"This is a huge issue for us," said Laura Slack, president of the Board of Education. It will be difficult for the district to manage keeping the budget under the two percent [property] tax cap, while student enrollment is increasing by almost three percent and the costs of state mandates keep rising. Slack said that the tax cap law was passed by the state without an exception for increasing enrollment.
"We really need to have a community conversation on how we're going to manage all of these children that we want to educate in the manner that we are used to in the Rye City School District, and that is an exemplary education, under the confines of the tax cap."
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