Led by a massive decline in New York City, enrollment in New York’s public schools continued falling last year and has sunk to its lowest level since the mid-1950s.
New York public schools enrolled an estimated 2.38 million students during the 2022-23 school year, new state data show, down from 2.42 million last year. Enrollment was down 10 percent from a decade prior, when enrollment was 2.66 million in 2013-14
Every county had fewer public school students in 2022-23 than it did in 2013-14.* The biggest decline was in the Bronx, where enrollment fell 23 percent, almost entirely since the pandemic. The smallest drop was on Staten Island, where enrollment declined just under 1 percent.
While Long Island and the counties north of New York City had been slowly losing enrollment prior to the pandemic, New York City enrollment had been essentially flat. The first-year collapses in enrollment in all three areas appear to have been permanent. Long Island enrollment has been flat and upstate enrollment has essentially continued its pre-pandemic decline. New York City, on the other hand, has now had three consecutive years of significant drops, with enrollment falling from 994,964 in 2018-19 to 880,554 this year—a drop of more than 110,000 students, or almost 12 percent, in just four years.
Statewide, enrollment numbers were partially buoyed by the expanded availability of pre-kindergarten, for which enrollment jumped from 101,253 to 139,547. The data include public charter schools, which select students by lottery and do not charge tuition. They show charter schools are educating a bigger share of New York’s students, with enrollment climbing from 91,927 (3.4 percent of all students) in 2013-14 to 175,065 (7 percent) in this school year.
While public school enrollment has declined, the statewide teachers union has pressed lawmakers to hike state aid for local school districts. School aid climbed 15 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over past decade, and is on pace to climb 12 percent beyond 2022-23 levels in just the next three years.
*Students outside New York City are counted by the county in which the district is headquartered and many cross county lines. District mergers, for example, caused Saratoga and Montgomery to appear to gain enrollment over 2013-14 levels; however, these students were previously attributed to Schenectady and Fulton, respectively.