Haredi schoolgirls (illustration)
Haredi schoolgirls (illustration)Flash 90

NEW YORK (JTA) — Enrollment in New York State’s Jewish day schools and yeshivas increased by 4.4 percent last year.

According to data compiled by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council from statistics provided by the New York State Education Department, more than 143,000 students were enrolled in 405 K-12 Jewish schools in the state during the 2014-15 academic year.

Not surprisingly, enrollment and growth was highest in counties with the largest haredi Orthodox populations. Brooklyn enrolled 80,132 students, up from 78,759 the previous year. Other top-enrolling counties were Rockland (23,618), Orange (10,997), Queens (10,503) and Nassau (7,592), all of which experienced increases over the previous year.

Enrollment declined slightly in Manhattan, however, with 4,360 students enrolled, down from 4,408 the previous year. The greatest increase was in Rockland, where enrollment rose by 7.1 percent. Rockland County’s large haredi Orthodox population has spurred controversy in recent years, particularly in the East Ramapo Central School District, where the Orthodox-majority school board has cut the public school system’s budget dramatically. In addition, haredi schools in both Rockland and Brooklyn have been criticized in recent years for allegedly failing to meet state requirements for secular education.

Going back two years (2012-2013 vs. 2014-2015), the percentage rise in Jewish school enrollment was 7.9 percent statewide.

The growth in Jewish enrollment came despite an overall decline in nonpublic school enrollment in New York state.

According to a news release issued by Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, the 143,156 students in Jewish schools receive, on average, “well below $1,500 in tax-funded services a year; compared to more than $19,500 per each public school student” saving taxpayers “at least $2.57 billion in education funding last year.”

The council claims that the private Jewish community “also directly funds the public school system,” due to property tax revenues from “properties owned by members of the Orthodox Jewish community.”