Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:00
By the time this letter is published, the 2013- 2014 school year would have already begun in the Westbury Union FreeSchool District and the perennial discussion about overcrowding would have resumed. The likelihood of this happening is perhaps more certain since the district is unique among its peers as the only one that has been experiencing steady enrollment growth over the past 3 to 4 years, while other surrounding districts are seeing a decline. The total district population now stands at approximately 48,000; an enrollment growth of approximately 5 percent compared to the past 4 to 5 years. In some quarters it is a widely held view that there is a preponderance of youths from outside the school district overwhelming the system, creating overcrowded class rooms and a drain on the district’s resources.
This argument has not been ignored by the district’s administrators, since as early as 2008; January 23, to be exact, when I attended a Residency Advisory Committee meeting, formulated for this purpose, then district superintendent Dr. Constance Clark, outlined the procedures in place to deal with this issue. She stated that when the school receives information that the student is an illegal resident, the parents are notified that they will be getting a bill.
At the August 2013 school board meeting, one of the contractors charged with this responsibility presented to the board. He provided updates on the strategies and procedure employed in dealing with this issue, and the most recent success rate. He stated that of the 50 cases presented to him, 20 were successfully resolved. In my opinion, one “out of district” student is one too many, but at the same time in examining this matter, we should do so in a manner that provides perspective as to the severity of the problem. At the risk of being perceived as trying to downplay the problem, I contend that 50 students, from a total of 48, 00 (1%) do not a crisis create. What I would urge is for the district to continue to keep the pressure on and for residents to cooperate in providing information to the school administration in instances where investigation is deemed necessary.