D300 to see shifts in student population
By Suzanne Baker email@example.com December 12, 2013 8:46AM
Hampshire Middle School, shown here on the first day of classes last year, is the only District 300 middle school expected to see a rise in enrollment over the next decade. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: January 14, 2014 12:46PM
A gaze into the demographic crystal ball shows that the Community Unit School District 300 board will be dealing with some sporadic shifts in student enrollment over the next 10 years.
While overall enrollment from kindergarten through high school is expected to remain steady across the district, individual shifts up and down are anticipated in the next decade.
The numbers are based on a report from demographer John Kasarda that was presented to the board this week by Chuck Bumbales, assistant superintendent of operations.
The report projects that overall elementary enrollments will remain flat for the next five years, but it is a different picture at the middle school level. Student enrollment is expected to drop at every middle school except Hampshire Middle.
High school enrollment over the next 10 years will vary depending on the school.
The student population at Jacobs High School in Algonquin is expected to drop over the next few years and then level off.
Dundee-Crown in Carpentersville should see enrollment rise in the next five years, then fall back to the current level.
Enrollment at Hampshire High School, like the middle school, is projected to rise and level off toward the end of the 10 years.
Bumbales urged the school board to remain vigilant about following housing trends in the district. At this point, families are just not buying new housing, nor are people moving away even though their children are grown. But that could change.
When the economy starts to improve, Bumbales said, the school district needs to watch housing development starts, with an eye toward areas with open space. The Northern Illinois Planning Commission projects that by 2030, communities such as Gilberts could double, East Dundee and Pingree Grove triple, and Hampshire quadruple in population.
The economy also is forcing people to hold onto their homes longer, and enrollments drop as the children get older.
Bumbales cited the example of Westfield Community School in Algonquin. At one time, the school housed more than 1,800 children with a need for mobile classrooms. Over a seven- to eight-year period, enrollment fell to its current 1,390 students.
“When the eventual turnover of the existing housing stock begins and our maturing neighborhoods turn over and start having more school-age children, that will be a significant point where we should start to grow again. It simply has not occurred yet,” Bumbales said.
Even with the possibility of growth looming, the district has time to determine how to maximize the existing classrooms and space.
“This is an opportunity to take some time to make good, long-term education decisions,” Bumbales said.
He warned that just because enrollment numbers are stagnant or falling does not mean school space is being underutilized. “We are really starting to run out of space at the elementary level,” he said.
In Neubert Elementary in Algonquin, which housed more than 900 students at one time and required mobile classrooms, only one or two open classrooms are available even though enrollment has dropped to around 400. That is because the district chose to bring in eight cluster special education programs that draw students from throughout the district.
With demographic figures in hand, Bumbales said district leaders can work with the teaching community to determine the best use for space throughout the district.
Bumbales said he will come back to the school board over the next few months with updates on current and projected classroom space needs and potential educational program options.