When the Fiscal Year 2013 budget was announced with a $5.5 million deficit at the , that number was riding on the assumption that there were 17,561 students enrolled in District 308.
Superintendent Matthew Wendt announced at the August 27 board meeting that number has now inflated to 17,739 students and that nearly 500 new students have joined the district. District 308 is expecting to see enrollments through August and even potentially past Labor Day.
With the increase in students, the district is working to keep classrooms balanced.
Wendt said there are highs and lows in class sizes across the district, but in terms of core classes at the junior high level they are trying to keep those lower.
For example, across all five junior highs, the average class size for mathematics and language arts is 23. But at the new Murphy Junior High classes are closer to 21 students and at Thompson classes are closer to 28 students.
“Non-core classes will tend to have smaller class sizes,” said Wendt, of subjects like art or foreign languages.
At the elementary level, the district has elementary classrooms with 29 or more students. Some schools, like Homestead and Churchill, have seen classes of up to 33 students while other schools cap out around 26 or so students. Wendt said the classrooms were not designed for classes of those size.
Wendt said the incoming enrollments are causing elementary class sizes to become larger and the Board should anticipate the averages changing. “We’ll need to have a dialogue soon about the schools that are in the 30 plus range,” said Wendt.
One solution Wendt proposed for future thought is taking new students moving into the district and placing them in schools where the class sizes are a lower average.
Other students are moving around as well due to the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) report that has marked six schools within the district as having failed for a second time and are now required to offer Choice.
The schools that did not make AYP for a second year, and are required to offer Choice include: Boulder Hill and Long Beach Elementary Schools, Traughber, Plank and Thompson Junior Highs and Oswego East High School. However, since Oswego High School also did not make AYP students at East cannot transfer over.
Kristine Liptrot, Director of Communications, said based on the number of affected students, a very low amount have chosen to switch to a different school. “Typically what parents look for is the reason why the school didn’t may AYP and if their child was affected.”
So far 39 students have opted to switch to another school due to Choice.
The final deadline for parents to switch their children’s schools using Choice is August 28 for some and August 29 for others, depending on when they received their letter alerting them to the AYP status.
Director of District Student Services Christine Nelson said of the children switching schools, so far only 4 students are not able to be accommodated using an existing bus route in the area. She said the district will search for other transportation options, including the possibility of taxi cabs.