Shoreham-Wading River board mulls $6K study to predict enrollment

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | SHoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board debated the merits of a proposed new demographic survey for the district at its meeting Tuesday night.

The study would look at birthrate data from the towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead, trends in district history and enrollment data to predict how many students would be entering or leaving the district in the coming school years, said William Bushman, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources.

A previous study, conducted before the real estate market crash, inaccurately predicted growth in the district, which actually saw fewer students than expected.

“Certainly in these economic times we need an accurate projection of what facilities and space we’ll need for students,” Mr. Bushman said.

The new study would be done by SBA Solutions, which answered a request for proposals from the district, and would cost $6,000, Mr. Bushman said. It would be completed in about four weeks.

But some school board members said they weren’t sure the survey would be worth it.

Board member John Zukowski said there “are an awful lot of variables out there right now,” including proposed housing developments within the districts, that would make the study obsolete.

Board member Marie Lindell also questioned whether the district’s enrollment would fluctuate enough to justify a new study.

“With such a small school district, are the numbers going to change that much to warrant spending this kind of money?” she asked.

Glen Arcuri, director of finance and operations, said the survey would help the district make more accurate projections for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 budgets.

“This is instrumental data in actually forecasting what our enrollment will be from a class size perspective,” Mr. Arcuri said.

“The purpose is how many [students] could potentially push us at or over capacity.” Mr. Bushman added that the survey could be done at any time.

The board ultimately decided to table the matter until they could see if the demographic information could be obtained less expensively by district employees.

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