The district is down 280 students compared to last year, and more than 400 below official projections, according to a USD 231 director’s report.
An examination of 2020-2021 student data, shows a decline in overall student enrollment.
As of Sept. 22 there were 5,840 preschool through high school students enrolled for this school year, the report said. “This unofficial headcount enrollment is the lowest in five years and represents a decline of approximately 280 students from this time last year, and is 424 fewer students than our demographer projected.”
Enrollment was down at all levels; elementary, middle and high school, but was most notable at the elementary level, which was down 244 students, including 88 fewer preschool students.
At the start of school the last few years, the district seen much more in-migration as each grade moves up, meaning as last year’s first grade turns into this year’s second grade the overall numbers of students in that group goes up.
That was not the case this year.
Every class, save last year’s ninth grade/this year’s tenth grade, which was flat and this year’s senior class, which went up by two students, experienced an erosion or out migration of students.
“We can say with a high degree of confidence the decline in student enrollment is the result of COVID-19 and something we did anticipate,” according to the report. “It seems reasonable to assume our preschool numbers are down, because many parents of three and four-year-old children decided to keep their little ones’ home during these times.”
There are also local parents who have chosen to home school their older children or enroll them in virtual options, outside the GE district.
In early October, the current enrollment numbers will be shared with the district’s demographer; and the district’s five year projections should be updated in Spring.