NORWOOD PARK — Thirty-four students who attended Dirksen Elementary School in Norwood Park will likely attend Oriole Park Elementary School in the fall, officials said.
The proposal to change Oriole Park Elementary School's boundaries is expected to be approved by the Chicago Board of Education July 29, Oriole Park Elementary School Principal Tim Riff told parents Thursday.
"These additional students will bring much-needed resources, potentially help us to reduce class size, and help us to grow into our new space," Riff said, referring to the new two-story, $20 million annex scheduled to open in September.
Students who live north of Foster Avenue and east of Cumberland Avenue will now attend Oriole Park Elementary School, 5424 N. Oketo Ave., Riff said.
Dirksen Elementary School, 8601 W. Foster Ave., had a utilization rate of 155 percent during the 2014-15 school year, making it one of the most crowded schools in the city, according to Chicago Public Schools data.
School budgets are primarily based on enrollment.
The total number of students enrolled at Oriole Park Elementary School during the 2015-16 school year had been expected to grow by about a dozen students to 621, based on data released earlier this week by CPS officials.
The school's budget had been expected to increase by approximately $67,000, according to officials.
At Dirksen, enrollment had been projected to grow by approximately two dozen students to 802, and its budget was projected to grow by $100,000, according to officials.
CPS faces a projected $1.1 billion budget deficit with a balanced budget due at the end of August, officials said.
While the financial crisis will have "some impact" on Oriole Park elementary, class sizes will remain steady, Riff said. There will be no more than 27 students in each class from kindergarten to seventh grade, and 32 students per class in eighth grade, the principal told parents.
Two new teachers will be hired at the school, Riff said.
But the school will no longer have an assistant principal. Instead, fourth grade teacher Frank Vicari will become a "teacher leader" and the school's dean of students, Riff said.
Among the changes greeting students and parents in the fall will be the removal of the large concrete dragon curled around the front of the school, Riff said.
While it was reviled by neighbors when it was built in 1999, the fire-breathing creature — covered in a rubberized foam to protect tony knees and elbows — became a favorite play area for the school's littlest students.
Efforts to preserve the dragon's head as a memento proved too costly, and the entire structure will be removed, Riff said.
"We will enjoy revitalized and safer school grounds, but we will miss the unique character that the dragon brought to our school," Riff said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: