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Port Chester Schools Struggle With Growing Enrollment

Increasing enrollment in Port Chester schools has led district officials to seek to discourage any more residential development in the village.
Increasing enrollment in Port Chester schools has led district officials to seek to discourage any more residential development in the village. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Rising enrollment in Port Chester schools has officials worried about more students coming into the district, and looking for ways to prevent overcrowding in the classroom.

School enrollment has risen by 619 students, or 16 percent, since 2007. To help slow the expansion, members of the Board of Education have drafted a resolution urging officials from the villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook to discourage any additional residential development that would bring more students to the district.

"It's not just our elementary schools that are busting at the seams, which they are," said Carolee Brakewood, vice president of the Board of Education who helped draft the resolution. She said that the district has struggled to keep class sizes under 27 or 28 students.  "But also the high school is very overcrowded as well. So any new housing project that comes on the scene is going to impact our schools."

Brakewood said that at a special meeting of the board last week, they discussed how and when the district might be able to construct more classrooms. She said that the most cost-efficient way would would be to wait until 2017, when three of the existing five bonds are due to expire and a new one can be issued to pay for more classroom space. The district is already renting space at the Holy Rosary School.

Board President Anne Capeci said that board members will have to talk to village officials to get them to enforce village codes to prevent overcrowding. She pointed out that years ago the middle school was acquired through condemnation

"We have the right as a school district to acquire property by condemnation, and we might have to do that," Capeci said. "Our schools are not large piecse of land. If we eat up all the green space in our school district to add classrooms, it wouldn't be fair to the children."

The board may vote on the resolution against further development at its next meeting on Jan. 15.

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