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Ossining Schools Face Tight Budget, Rising Enrollment

OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining school officials think the district's increasing enrollment and increasing popularity could lead to complicated budget decisions in the near future.

The Ossining Union Free School District had about 360 more students at the end of the 2011-12 school year than at the start of the 2007-08 school year, according to district records . When students return to the schools in a couple of weeks, district officials expect there to be 129 more students than there were last year, for an expected total of 4,735 students.

It is difficult to find answers as to why enrollment is increasing, but Board of Education President Bill Kress has a few ideas.

“I think it’s because we have good schools and our taxes, compared with the rest of the county, tend to be on the lower end of the scale,” Kress said Tuesday. “I think people are attracted to Ossining and we’ve had a lot of successes over the last several years. I think it’s great that people want to come here.”

School board member Dana Levenberg acknowledged that increased enrollment and a tightening budget could mean some difficulties.

“It’s complicated because there is good and there are challenges,” Levenberg said. “I think there isn’t anyone who says they wouldn’t be challenged by increasing enrollment at a time when budgets are dwindling.”

School districts report their enrollment each year to the state Education Department, typically the first Wednesday in October. Students who attend BOCES programs part time are included in a district’s enrollment. Students who attend BOCES full time or who are placed full time by the district in an out-of-district program are not included in a district’s enrollment.

Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Glassman said during last year’s budget season that the increased enrollment would typically mean steady increase in staffing, but noted that two teachers would be added to start the 2012-13 school year.

“In consideration of the economic times, the proposed budget does not advance us further toward reduction in class size,” Glassman wrote in April. “Yet, the proposed budget does not violate Board of Education Policy. Overall, elementary classroom staffing includes 98 teachers, which reflects two additional teachers beyond 2011-2012 staffing in order to respect class size.”

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