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Enrollment Increases In Tarrytown School District

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – More students are enrolling in the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns than are leaving, and that has been the trend for the past several years, Superintendent Howard Smith said, which is a situation that can cause problems with class sizes.

“That's an issue that we have to deal with you start out with certain numbers and you end up with a higher number,” Smith said.

Enrollment in the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns increased by approximately two percent from the 2010-11 school year, according to enrollment data released by the school district and discussed at the most recent Board of Education meeting.

Total enrollment was 2,808 this year, up from 2,754 in 2010-11. Enrollment grew approximately 3.8 percent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Smith said many of the new students came during the last year but are counted this year because the numbers are essentially comparing this September to last September.

“We have continued to grow virtually every year for the last decade,” Smith said.

Ninth grade is a particular entry grade for new students: parochial schools stop at that level and some ninth-graders don't earn enough credit to move into the 10th grade.

Class sizes at the high school averaged around 24 seats per class, not including larger classes such as band, orchestra and chorus. However, there are some classes with more than 30 students and others with less than 15 students.

According to statistics provided by TUFSD, three subjects at the high school level saw more than 15 percent of classes had more than 30 students: math (16 percent of classes over 30), social studies (20 percent of classes over 30) and P.E. (20 percent of classes over 30).

Part of the problem with these larger classes, Smith said, is that the district tries to place students in the schedules they want.

While “you'd love to have two classes of 24 each, sometimes you end up with one of 16 and one of 30,” Smith said. “It's just the way the schedule works.”

Another issue is that the number of classes over 30 has grown in the last couple of years, to where it's not that unusual. A few classes have 34 and 35 students in them.

“All of this could easily be solved by simply hiring more teachers,” Smith said, noting that tightened budgets have made that impossible. The school district, he said, was “trying desperately to hang on to the staff we had going into this year.”

The high school's larger class sizes are “defensible,” Smith said. In general, he noted, the district is seeing an average of 24 students in each class, which would be an efficient high school model. But Smith explained that “everybody's experience is not average, and that's the problem.”

Smith said the school district was making accommodations for students in the larger classes.

Classes at other grade levels were not as large as the high school.

Class sizes within the elementary grades stayed about the same from 2010-11, with averages staying one or two seats within the district guideline. Class sizes within the middle school averaged below the 25-seat mark.

Smith noted that class sizes in first and third grades were able to remain about the same with a larger number of students because the district added another section to both grades. Without the new sections, the class sizes would have been much larger.

“We were not able to add a section in fifth grade, as in years' past we might have,” Smith said.

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