Board of Education Launches Year-Long Study to Consider Future Redistricting

Smithtown schools see declining kindergarten enrollment; fewer students could lead to closures or redistricting.

Smithown Central School District's New York Avenue building. (Patch file photo)
Smithown Central School District's New York Avenue building. (Patch file photo)
Smithtown school officials assured parents there will be "no immediate changes" changes in students' assigned schools for next fall, redistricting and further closures are possibilities in the future. 

"We do not anticipate a redistricting that would yield a significant savings for the 2014-15 budget cycle," said Theresa Knox, vice president of Smithtown's Board of Education on Tuesday night. 

Knox, also the board's Housing Committee chairperson, announced the district will launch a year-long demographics study to consider different options including redistricting or consolidating to save money. 

One possibility that's been discussed, according to Knox, is bringing sixth-grade students back to the elementary schools and closing one of Smithtown's three middle school buildings. 

Smithtown Central School District has been seeing declining enrollment in its kindergarten classes and overall student population for several years. 

According to the information provided to New York State Education Department, Smithown schools had 757 registered kindergarten students for the 2009-10 school year, which dropped to 653 by 2011-12 school year. As of Nov. 22, 2013, it has further dropped to 569 kindergarten students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, according to figures provided by Superintendent Judith Elias. 

Similarly, Smithtown's overall student population has dropped from 10,862 in 2009-10 to a current total of 10,048 - a decline of roughly 7 percent over five years. 

Knox said by March the district's Housing Committee will be interviewing consultants to help loo over the demographics and determine the best course of action. 

"By June, we should know whether this reduction in the elementary population is holding and demographic experts and realtors expect we're going to see it fold,  or are we doing to see a bump," Knox said, as kindergarten registration for 2014-15 year is underway. 

Smithtown Board of Education unanimously voted to close Nesconset Elementary School in June 2012 in order to help the district's fiscally by providing roughly $1 million in savings. This changed some of the district's feeder patterns for elementary and middle school students. 

Jennifer Bradshaw, assistant superintendent of curriculum, suggested the district start by reaching out to Western Suffolk BOCES consultants and ABS Data Services in New Jersey. 

Tell us, what do you think of Smithtown school's potentially 

Hasyayoga January 18, 2014 at 11:16 AM
Elsie-Thank you for the correction. I thought it was 14, but 12 is insane regardless. I believe, and will research, NYS Law is minimum of 120 minutes, but I may be mistaken. I was unaware that Dr. Clark lost the SCSD millions in reimbursements. Where can that information be located? I hope you are an active member in Smithtown SEPTA because they are working very hard to try to make changes and could use a dynamo like yourself. :)
Pam January 18, 2014 at 11:29 AM
@Elise- Yes please share the necessary info so I can FOIL the documents for research on the Dr. Clarke issue. @Hasyayoga- you are spot on. The district should be re creating the comprehensive housing report from 2008- the research that went into that document was impressive- all the district has to do is re gather the new data and formulate a plan according to the research that we can easily retrieve ourselves.
Elsie January 18, 2014 at 02:00 PM
The information is from other parents at SEPTA and people at some employees that I won't mention. There was a lawsuit because they tried to 2020a (? not sure what this is or if I got it quite right). She didn't get reimbursements from Medicaid. She also made abusive comments and gestures. I doubt the information is available because it was a personell matter. But she was on a paid leave and then they settled the lawsuit and let her come back. The previous superintendent started the procedure. Harry, I attend every SEPTA meeting but it is very divided in my opinion. (g) A school district may include integrated co-teaching services in its continuum of services. Integrated co-teaching services means the provision of specially designed instruction and academic instruction provided to a group of students with disabilities and nondisabled students. (1) The maximum number of students with disabilities receiving integrated co-teaching services in a class shall be determined in accordance with the students’ individual needs as recommended on their IEPs, provided that the number of students with disabilities in such classes shall not exceed 12 students, unless a variance is provided pursuant to subparagraph (i) or (ii) of this paragraph. (i) Variance by notification. A board of education or trustees of a school district may submit written notice to the commissioner to temporarily add one additional student with a disability to an integrated co-teaching class for the remainder of the school year, provided that at the start of classes in September of the current school year it is in compliance with the standards specified in this paragraph. Written notice to the commissioner shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall sufficiently demonstrate educational justification and consistency with providing an appropriate education for all children affected. (ii) Variance with Commissioner approval. If the school district has enrolled one student with a disability beyond the maximum 12 students with disabilities in an integrated co-teaching services class pursuant to the procedures established in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, and it determines there is a need to temporarily add one additional student to such class, the school district may submit to the commissioner for approval an application for a variance to enroll the one additional student in the same class for the remainder of the school year. The application to the commissioner shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall sufficiently demonstrate educational justification and consistency with providing an appropriate education for all children affected. (2) School personnel assigned to each class shall minimally include a special education teacher and a general education teacher.
Hasyayoga January 18, 2014 at 03:51 PM
Elsie, thank you for the info. So its 12 students and 13 if a variance is approved. I still think that is a high number of students for one gen ed class and 120 min of sp. ed teacher per day...especially w/CCSS. As far as Dr. Clark, I have no knowledge of her leave due to personnel issues and staff interactions. I would assume that's confidential, but I am very interested in millions of dollars that were not reimbursed by Medicaid regardless of who was at the helm. It would seem to me that Mrs. Niles and Mr. Ehmann were also a part of that process. They have both retired. That is something the public would be interested in & can SCSD reapply for those reimbursements. Good to hear you attend every SEPTA meeting. All the PTAs are somewhat divided and sometimes frustrating...but its Principles before Personalities and SEPTA- I am sure- is glad you attend. Our struggling students need more advocates like you.
Pam January 18, 2014 at 09:43 PM
@Elise thank you- the information can be gained even if they redact it. It is easy to figure out the names they are redacting if you know the circumstances- just like when Steve Epstein was fired because of the millions in building aid projects. They should have fired his boss J Niles, but he was the patsy instead.


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