Despite School District 24 being the most overcrowded district in Queens, a huge decline in enrollment at one elementary school in Ridgewood could be indicative of a shift in neighborhood demographics.
On June 27, Department of Education (DOE) spokesman Doug Cohen confirmed that P.S. 88 on Catalpa Avenue will have to fire nine teachers due to a decline in enrollment of 100 students for the 2018-19 school year. Cohen explained that while enrollment for the 2017-18 school year was 941 students, that number is projected to fall to 841 next year.
Since schools receive budget allocations based on the number and needs of their students, the resulting budget cuts for next year meant that teachers had to be let go, Cohen said.
Yet, according to the DOE’s Fair Student Funding records online, P.S. 88 is far from the only Ridgewood school to be hit with budget cuts.
Records show that P.S. 68 will lose $212,675; P.S. 71 will lose $396,403; P.S. 239 will lose $217,822; P.S. 81 will lose $435,371; P.S. 305 will lose $102,968; and I.S. 77 will lose $33,374. That list includes all but one of Ridgewood’s elementary schools.
According to Pat Grayson, chair of the Community Board 5 Education Committee, the declining enrollment and budget cuts at elementary schools is a direct reflection of the changing age demographic in Ridgewood.
“In actuality, people got up and moved away,” Grayson said. “Millennials are the people who have children when they’re 42 … people who are buying here don’t have a family yet. The point is, the neighborhood is no longer an old person’s neighborhood.”
As this is part of District 24, which is supposedly the most overcrowded school district in the city, it's hard to fathom that this is going on. A lot of new schools have opened in Ridgewood in the past decade or so, but why?