A new report from the Empire Center shows New York public schools are on track to experience the largest decline in enrollment since 1981, with 66,424 fewer K-12 students—a 2.6 percent drop—as compared to the 2019-20 school year.  

Though public school enrollment in New York has been gradually declining since 2011, the reduction in enrollment between this year and last marks a significant acceleration of that trend,” Empire Center fellow Ian Kingsbury noted. 

The report, based on preliminary data released by the New York State Department of Education, shows the vast majority of enrollment losses from 2019-20 to 2020-21 occurred in grades K-6. 

Changes in enrollment varied significantly according to a student’s economic status. Enrollment among students classified as economically disadvantaged decreased by 3.9 percent. However, among students not categorized as economically disadvantaged, enrollment increased by 2.9 percent. There were also substantial changes in enrollment according to school type. Charter school enrollment increased by 7.4 percent, while traditional public school enrollment decreased by 3.2 percent.

significant number of students are persistently absent from virtual learning, meaning the real number of students that have functionally exited New York public schools is likely higher than the preliminary estimate provided by the State Education Department. 

“Preliminary enrollment data indicate that the Covid-19 pandemic and related school closures have accelerated recent trends in declining enrollment,”  Kingsbury added. “While these numbers are historic, they likely fail to capture the true number of students to have functionally exited the New York public education system.”

Read the full report here.   

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.  

You may also like

How NY Hid the True Cost of 2019 Climate Law—And What Lawmakers Can Do About It

A new report from the Empire Center reveals hidden and rising costs, questionable assumptions and emerging transparency and practical issues resulting from New York’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Read More

2023 Local Government Pay Data Posted on SeeThroughNY

Pay records for more than 168,000 county, city, town, village and other public employees were added today to SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. In addition to the searchable data, the Empire Center also released the updated edition of What They Make, its annual analysis of the state fiscal year 2023 payrolls for local governments outside New York City. Read More

More NY Pensions Hit $200K

The number of retirees eligible for $200,000+ pensions from the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) reached 54 last year, according to new data posted on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. Read More

Hochul Tells It Like It Is — Empire Center Responds to FY25 Budget Proposal

In response to Governor Hochul’s FY25 state budget presentation, Empire Center President & CEO Tim Hoefer issued the following reaction: "Governor Hochul is telling it like it is: New York’s  and spending are out of line with na Read More

2022-23 School Pay Records Added to SeeThroughNY

The data, covering all school districts outside NYC, show 75,280 school district employees were paid at least $100,000 last year, compared to 58,631 in 2017-18. Read More

Public Authority Payrolls Updated on SeeThroughNY

Payroll data detailing $6 billion in annual pay for more than 86,000 public employees at 383 agencies including the Thruway Authority, New York City Health + Hospitals and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) were added today to SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. Read More

Snips, Strikes and Skaters: NY Borrows To Cover Its Pork Habit

New York state lawmakers and Governor Hochul since January have steered nearly $200 million in borrowed state funds outside the regular budget process to hundreds of pet projects, according to new data posted on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. Read More

Port Authority Unloads Big Overtime for Cops

The 10 highest-paid employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) last year were police officers who collected more than $370,000 each, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website. Read More