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Friday, August 22, 2014
Study projects enrollment to decline further
WHSD committee to use data to decide on use of empty school space
Susan Grieco/Herald
Joan Townley, of Western Suffolk BOCES, presented the study’s results to more than 20 residents.

A demographic study presented by Western Suffolk BOCES last week showed declines in enrollment in the West Hempstead school district. The study, school officials said, will help the district school board’s Space Utilization Committee decide how the district can use empty space at the Chestnut Street School — formerly home to the West Hempstead Public Library — and the Eagle Avenue School, which Nassau BOCES will be vacating in June 2013.

According to Superintendent John Hogan, at the district’s request, Western Suffolk BOCES began the demographic study of the district and its facilities earlier this year. The results of the study, Hogan said, will help guide the committee’s operations.

At the committee’s second meeting, at West Hempstead High School on Aug. 14, Joan Townley of Western Suffolk BOCES presented the study’s results to more than 20 residents. According to Townley, the district’s enrollment declined by 8.6 percent from 2005 to 2011 — more than double the Long Island average (4.2 percent) and Nassau County average (3.3 percent).

Townley explained that during that time, West Hempstead saw a decrease of 47 students, or 5.3 percent, at its elementary grades, a loss of 22 students — 4.5 percent — at the middle school and a decrease of 135 students — 13.6 percent — at the high school.

Hogan, who chairs the committee — which is composed of school officials, residents and community leaders — told the Herald that the group’s goal is to devise a plan to utilize the two properties that the district owns and to present the plan to the Board of Education by late October.

School officials said that both the Chestnut Street School, which has 9,783 square feet of vacant space, and the Eagle Avenue building, formerly known as Marion Delaney, which has 51,155 square feet, can generate future revenue for the district.

The Herald reported in February that declining enrollment is forcing Nassau BOCES to terminate its lease with the school district, and it will vacate the Eagle Avenue building it has occupied and used as a middle school for more than two decades. BOCES pays more than $500,000 in rent annually — income on which the district relies.

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