EDGEBROOK — Enrollment at Far Northwest Side schools will rise moderately during the 2016-17 school year, according to projections released by Chicago Public Schools officials.
If accurate, the enrollment projections would mean a big change for schools from last year, when eight schools experienced significant growth in the number of students.
In turn, that could allow a bit of breathing room to the nearly two dozen Far Northwest Side schools considered overcrowded by CPS officials. CPS officials have said there are no plans to add space to elementary or high schools across the Far Northwest Side for at least the next year.
It is a different story for three neighborhood high schools on the Northwest Side. Schurz, Foreman and Steinmetz high schools are projected to lose an average of 13 percent of their students. Since schools' funding depends on the number of pupils, the high schools are expected to lose more than $2 million this year as compared with last year.
Officials expect 3,208 students to attend class at Taft starting in September in a building meant for 2,184 pupils, according to data released by Chicago Public Schools officials. That is a decrease of only four students from the 2015-16 school year, according to CPS enrollment figures.
Enrollment at Edison Park Elementary School, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., is expected to experience the largest enrollment growth of any Far Northwest Side school this year, with CPS officials expecting the number of students to grow 6.4 percent, according to CPS projections.
The school, where a 10-classroom annex opened in 2014, had a utilization rate of 102 percent during the 2015-16 school year, which CPS officials consider an "efficient" use of space, according to CPS data.
Projections made by CPS before school started in September 2015 underestimated growth at 11 Far Northwest Side schools, according to a DNAinfo Chicago analysis of enrollment data and projections.
For example, enrollment grew 25 percent at Sauganash Elementary School from the 2014-15 school year to the 2015-16 school year when CPS officials expected it to decline slightly.
District officials expect the Sauganash Elementary's student population during the 2016-17 year to drop by four students as compared with last year, according to CPS data.
Norwood Park, Farnsworth, Hitch and Ebinger elementary schools had significantly more students enroll than CPS officials expected during the 2015-16 school year, according to CPS data.
At two elementary schools — Farnsworth and Norwood Park — that saw their enrollment jump approximately 18 percent last year, officials expect enrollment to grow less than 2.5 percent this year, according to CPS data.
Six other Far Northwest Side schools — Hitch, Bridge, Beaubien, Canty, Wildwood and Oriole Park — saw their enrollment jump approximately 10 percent last year.
Only Hitch is projected to see its enrollment increase significantly this year, with the number of students at the Gladstone Park school expected to grow by 4 percent, according to CPS data.
Officials expect enrollment to grow by just five students this year at Canty Elementary in Dunning, where an $18 million, two-story annex is under construction.
Enrollment at Beaubien Elementary in Jefferson Park, which also includes a gifted program, is expected to decline by 3.6 percent, according to CPS data.
The most crowded elementary school on the Far Northwest Side — and the second most-crowded school in the city — is Bridge Elementary School in Dunning, where enrollment grew 15 percent last year.
This year, Bridge is projected to grow only 2.5 percent, according to CPS data.
Oriole Park Elementary School, where a new annex opened a year ago, is also projected to grow only 2.5 percent, according to CPS data.
For the second year in a row, Wildwood Elementary School in Edgebrook will be underutilized. Although district officials say it can now accommodate 600 students, its enrollment is projected to grow only 2.5 percent, leaving more than 100 empty seats, according to CPS data.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Ebinger Elementary School in Edison Park, which district officials believe will grow by 20 students. That means 796 students will study in a building meant to house 510 students, according to CPS data.
But Ebinger's growth will be much less than last year, when the number of students grew 9.3 percent, according to CPS data.
Principal Serena Peterson-Klosa told parents in an email this week that she expects Ebinger to grow even less than district officials expect, and only gain between five and 10 students by the 20th day of school, when enrollment numbers are calculated by CPS officials and used to determine a school's final budget.
Ebinger parents and officials, who have been asking for an annex for more than three years, were dismayed and angered when CPS officials announced they would expand and build new schools on the Southeast Side, West Loop and the Loop rather than Ebinger.
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