YONKERS, N.Y. – A lackluster economy combined with a growing confidence in the Yonkers public school system has led to a surge in enrollment numbers this summer, administrators say.
With families on a budget and several local parochial schools closing due to low enrollment, more and more parents are sending their children to the city’s public schools, officials said Monday.
Administrators said an influx of nearly 1,000 students can also be attributed to a recent resurgence of confidence in the district, in part due to Yonkers students' success.
“The district’s increasing graduation rate, high levels of college-bound students and improved student performance on state tests demonstrates the achievement taking place within our schools,” the district said in a statement.
Last month, the state Education Department announced the district had improved its standardized test scores in both math and English. Despite remaining below state averages, Yonkers students scored the highest levels of proficiency of the Big Four city school districts (Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo).
Administrators say people are taking notice.
“In fact, the superintendent recently met a family from New Jersey who relocated to Yonkers specifically because they heard good things about our schools,” the district said.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 15, 26,288 students were enrolled in the district for the 2012-2013 school year, 953 more than last year. In the meantime, an average of 25 to 40 students are enrolling each day.
The year’s increase in enrollment continues a recent trend for the Yonkers City School District, which has seen its numbers increase steadily over the past four years, when enrollment was just over 24,000. A study conducted in 2011 predicts similar trends in the future, with an estimated 30,000 students attending Yonkers schools by 2018.
Still, with the biggest class sizes in over four decades expected this year, officials say the schools will be an estimated 4,000 seats short this year. In an effort to obtain extra classroom space, Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio has said the district is considering a plan to lease a shuttered parochial school on North Broadway.
He also said the district may have to ask the city for additional funding, hoping to hire up to six more teachers. But Pierorazio insists additional students aren't a bad thing.
“I think it’s a good problem,” he said. “I think students coming into our district is positive for our city.”