CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The Katonah-Lewisboro School District is projected to have a student body by the 2016-17 school year that is 25 percent smaller than it was in 2006-07, according to a recent demographic study
The prediction was made by Dr. Richard S. Grip of Statistical Forecasting during a report to the Board of Education on Thursday night. The report was based on a demographic study commissioned by the district.
Projected 2016-17 enrollment is fewer than 3,000 students – a loss of approximately 620 students from the current enrollment of almost 3,600.
School officials said the study was intended to provide a likely trajectory of enrollment over the next several years to help guide the Board of Education in its decision-making. Issues such as building utilization, organization of grade levels, repurposing of schools and financial forecasting are all contingent on enrollment.
Statistical Forecasting's study used a method that compared the number of students in each grade to the number in the previous grade the prior year. Birth rates, housing growth and historical enrollments were all contributing factors in the enrollment projections.
The research found that the district is experiencing “negative kindergarten replacement,” meaning the number of high school graduates is larger than the number of incoming kindergarteners, which results in a declining enrollment. The Katonah-Lewisboro School District has half-day kindergarten, so first-grade enrollments were reviewed instead.
Negative kindergarten replacement has occurred in each of the past five years. In the spring of 2011, 351 seniors graduated from John Jay High School, but only 225 first grade students entered the elementary schools the following fall – a loss of 126 students in one year alone.
In the 2006-07 school year, there were 1,749 students in grades K-5. By 2011-12, the number dropped to 1,497. The projected K-5 enrollment for 2016-17 is approximately 1,140, a loss of more than 600 elementary students over a 10-year period. The study shows that losses are significant at the secondary level as well; projections reveal a decline of approximately 234 students in grades 6-8 and 243 students in grades 9-12 over the 10-year period from 2006-07 to 2016-17.
“We were already aware that our enrollment was declining, and this study helped us to understand why it’s happening,” said Board of Education President Mark Lipton. “The findings reveal that we can expect to see an even more dramatic drop in enrollment in the next four years, a critical point for us to consider as we plan and prepare for the future of our district.
“Having a more solid idea of what to anticipate will help us make decisions that are aligned with our continuous objectives of student learning, achievement and fiscal responsibility.”