In a vivid example of recent population trends, the number of students in Brooklyn’s yeshivos showed its first-ever decline since the borough became an Orthodox powerhouse a century ago, according to an analysis of state education data.
The borough home to Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush and Crown Heights still has a commanding lead with the most number of students in New York state — it has 81,350 students. But this is down by 1,184 from 2017. And it is up from the 64,721 number of students a decade ago.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, which compiled the data from statistics made available by the New York State Education Department, said that Brooklyn’s decline is a direct effect of rising home costs.
“Young families are leaving in large numbers to [other] counties or to New Jersey,” OJPAC said in a statement accompanying the study. “Consider: While enrollment in Brooklyn rose by 3,248 students the last five years, full day kindergarten enrollment dropped by 582 students from five years ago.”
In contrast, Lakewood’s yeshivah population rose by 50 percent in the past five years. While the number of students through 12th grade in the 2013 school years was 20,92, it is currently at 31,376, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Education.
Overall, the study showed, there are 151,828 students enrolled in New York yeshivos for the current school year in kindergarten through 12th grade. This is an increase of 2,266 from last year and a steep rise from the 113,387 students 10 years ago.
To compare, the total non-public school enrollment in the state has dropped since 2008 by about 31,000, or more than 7 percent. During that period, enrollment in yeshivos rose by 34 percent.
This means that while 10 years ago yeshivos represented 26 percent of the non-public school population, it currently makes up nearly 40 percent.
The county with the second-most number of yeshivah students is Rockland, which is home to Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square. It has a student population of 27,859, up by 1,888 from last year. Rockland’s yeshivah enrollment is up by a whopping 74 percent from just 10 years ago.
The county that is home to Kiryas Joel, Orange County, has 13,400 yeshivah students, up by 1,209 and 78 percent from 10 years ago.
Queens also showed a modest rise with its 11,489 yeshivah students, as did Nassau County with 7,771 students. Manhattan has 4,441 students, down slightly from last year.
Each yeshivah student receives from the state, on average, less than $1,500 in public services a year, compared to the more than $21,000 invested in every public school student. The gap of more than $19,500 per student saves taxpayers approximately $2.96 billion in funding each year.