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Briarcliff Schools Enrollment Expected To Drop

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff Schools Superintendent Neal Miller is having a hard time trying to figure out why the Briarcliff School District is losing students.

Since 2007, the district’s enrollment has dropped by more than 150 students and while official figures are not out yet, Miller said he expects the district to lose another 30 students when the school year starts on Sept. 5. The district’s enrollment rose to 1,752 students in 2007-08 and Miller said he’s projecting that the Briarcliff School District will be home to less than 1,600 students for 2012-13.

“Over the last five years, we’ve been averaging a loss of about 30 students per year,” Miller said. “My guess we’ll be down again. We only have 84 students in our kindergarten class, which is down from 97 last year so that alone tells me we’re going to experience another loss.”

Miller joined the district in 2011 and said he is struggling to find causes to the declining enrollment trend.

“I really don’t have a reason. I’m relatively new here and I don’t have that kind of historical data. I’ve asked and nobody really knows,” Miller said. “People have said that students are opting to go to private schools but I did some research on that and it’s only been a handful so that hasn’t been significant.”

Academically, the Briarcliff School District ranks among the nation’s best with recent standardized testing scores far exceeding national, state and county averages. Economically, the district ranks as the fifth richest school district in the country, according to a recent report .

“I think Briarcliff academically is one of the most respected in the area,” Miller said. “I don’t want to speculate but I would say that the economic state of the area has to be a big factor. I don’t believe people aren’t coming to Briarcliff because they don’t want to, but I think it’s a trend that’s affecting a lot of places right now.”

Jennifer Rosen, vice president of the Briarcliff Board of Education, said the district has performed too well academically in recent years for her to consider that a possible factor. Rosen added that economic factors are likely a large contributing factor to the declining enrollment.

“Traditionally we get a lot of people from Manhattan coming here and that hasn’t been happening as much lately,” she said. “When people choose a community, school district is usually the reason why. I think people who are looking to move to a district look at what they’re getting for their money and although our taxes might be higher than other districts, they will be looking at what they get out of it and those higher taxes may be worth it.”

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