As we talked about how the number of families in the district have grown, we also addressed the idea of school expansion - one of our 5 elementary schools is being rebuilt, and another is being expanded - he mentioned that its a shame that when enrollment was down that the city sold two school buildings outright to two private schools - namely Solomon Schechter of Westchester, and the Deutsche Schul - a school for German expats. I thought about this for a while. Was it really a bad idea to do that? Yes, the school district will need to raise some extra capital for meeting the reversing enrollment trend, but was it a bad thing to sell of those old building to private schools? I think that the answer is no, and here is why:
- First and foremost, at the time, the schools were not needed and an extra burden on the school system. By selling off these buildings the district not only got cash from the sale, but it also saved cash in not having to maintain buildings that weren't being used.
- Secondly, by enabling the private schools to exist within city limits, it gave the school district something else - more found money. Ultimately, those communities served by these schools will bring their constituents to live in town, and even though certain services are afforded to local residents who's kids go to private school, nonetheless, there is a nice portion of the school budget saved by families who's kids opt out of the school system, freeing that budget money up for somewhere else.
- People like choices. Even if they move into a community on the credibility of its private schools, those people might ultimately opt to send their children to public school. In either case, as the reputation of the community grows, so does its popularity, housing prices increase, which also drives tax rolls, and enables the school's budget to grow as well.
All told, I think having local private schools in old city school buildings is a win-win situation for local school districts.