How many kids are in our local schools?

I’ve been meaning to get to this since September — and here we are, almost ready to close out another school year.

Since the pandemic, local school populations have been down as much as 34 percent. And this year, while PS 234 and PS 89 have inched up a bit, most are still down on average about 20 percent since the top enrollment in 2019.

It’s all the chart below, but here’s the summary:

  • PS 234: down 28 percent since 2019
  • PS 89: down 23 percent since 2019
  • PS 276: down 14 percent since 2019
  • Spruce: down 20 percent since 2019
  • Peck Slip: down 20 percent since 2019

(I didn’t include PS 150 since they moved and quadrupled their size, but are doing it gradually.)

The exodus has to be chalked up to the draw of private school, since the borough’s population has more than rebounded, and I have to assume the neighborhood reflects that. Manhattan has more residents than it did pre-pandemic — a 4 percent increase between January 2018 to October 2022, according to the tech company, which uses anonymous location data from 30 million mobile devices to make estimations about overall visits to any location. See the situation in the chart below.

This, of course, is not good for the health of local schools, which get more funding with more kids.



  1. It would be interesting to get the data on private schools, but I suspect their enrollment is relatively flat over this time period given they are constrained by seats and generally have more applicants than spots.

    I’d bet what is going on is a shift in the demographics of the city to become younger – so there is an air pocket of school aged children. If you had a 5-10 year old during the pandemic – you moved out to the suburbs (maybe you were planning to anyway, but it pulled forward some of those moves at the very least).

    Even though the population is back, the population that moved in is likely younger and was drawn in by temporarily lower rents in 2020/2021 and not having kids (yet). It will take some time for the new arrivals to get to be child bearing age and have kids.

    But we shall see.

    • This is what I think, too. The private schools are struggling and two in TriBeCa are closing due to enrollment problems. Little Red was able to absorb nearly 100 of the kids effected by the closures, which tells you something about their enrollment, too.

  2. NYC Public schools failed during the pandemic. People left the city, and left public schools.
    Thats it.

    • That’s just not true. NYC was I believe the first large school district to go back in person. They changed course a few times when circumstances changed. It’s really hard with 1mm kids in a giant system, but they did really well given the circumstances. I saw private schools have just as many problems. Lots of credit to teachers and administrators. I have kids in public school here and no other affliliation.

    • Nonsense and a comment you can’t back up with evidence.
      During the heady days of parent/DOE fighting overcrowding (2005-on) we knew this day would come. Populations coupled with need ebb and flow. The same thing happened after the big school builds post WW II but in those days, serious investment was made in (white) school districts.
      We are a big city with lots of needs so a number of these new schools especially in big commercial buildings could prove a lifesaver for other social needs and programs. We can adapt if the political will and societal awareness for all is promoted.

      • NYC Dept of Health required masks to go to school until mid June 2022 for only <5 year olds in daycares, preschools, and public 3k/4k settings. The DOH also kept quarantine closures for this age group until AUGUST 2022 – this means whenever a parent called the school to report their child had covid, that classroom was shut down for 5 days (but was previously 14, 10, 7 you get it). This was all way past when the data showed us the usefulness of these measures. The quarantine closures made life for working parents impossible. My young child was out of public school setting nearly all of dec/jan and mar/apr last year and sporadic other times. It was certainly measures like these that played a role in people wanting or needing to get out.

  3. I believe your assertion that Manhattan’s population has more residents than it did pre-pandemic is mistaken.

    I recently compiled U.S. Census population estimates for each of the five boroughs for 2019 (pre-pandemic)) and 2021 (most recent data available). Those figures are 1,628,000 and 1,577,000 respectively. That’s a drop of 45,000 — nearly 3 percent. The other boroughs all rose, by the way. Also, for completeness, the 2012 Manhattan population was 1,624,000, so yes, we had a tiny rise from 2012 to 2019.

    The 2022 Census figures aren’t out yet, but it stretches credulity that in one year Manhattan’s population would have wiped out the 2019-2021 drop, let alone risen by 4 percent as your source claims.

    Anyone interested in viewing the data can download my “BTA” spreadsheet (link: and go to the “Vehicle Ownership” tab.

    • Oops, Manhattan’s 2019-2021 population drop was 51,000 — even worse than the 45,000 I mistakenly wrote. Sorry for my error.

  4. I work at a public school and my child goes to private school. The private schools did a better job at instruction and actually were the first to go back in person. They held live sessions via zoom for kids that could not attend or became sick with COVID. Public school went hybrid which allowed teachers also to conduct classes via zoom or were just gave the kids a list of things to do “busy work” and not teach. Private schools had live sessions and couldn’t have thank them for being in person and making sure the kiddies got and received proper education.

  5. When 234 got a new principal there were significant changes for the worse. We LOVED it under Lisa and then we put our 3 kids in private after a few years under the new administration out of sheer necessity. They did a terrible job during covid as well to the detriment of the children. It was a wonderful before.

  6. We just declined ps234 in favor of a bilingual private school because of the lack of foreign language instruction. That was the deciding factor for us. Wish there was a way to provide this feedback to the DOE.

  7. Regarding general demographics….

    The millennial cohort ends at 1995-1996 births.
    1990 was the peak for births – then declined.
    This is also a reason that colleges (non-popular) have seen enrollment declines.

  8. From walking around the neighborhood and speaking with local merchants, looks like most of the families that left in summer of 2020 have not returned. Many places are plenty crowded, but seemingly with younger adults. Anyone have stats on this?

  9. Also, the economy never really recovered after 2008. For those of moderate means, Tribeca-BPC is just no longer affordable. Also, millennials not as eager to have children, so that may be a factor.

    • Many families with young kids moved out of NYC during the pandemic and didn’t come back. I can count 30+ from my circle of friends and acquaintances.