BEVERLY — Enrollment has increased this year at six Chicago Public Schools within the 19th Ward and declined at five others — pointing to trends Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) has used to propose a major restructuring of schools in the ward.
The information released by CPS, which compares 10th-day enrollment this year with 20th-day enrollment last year, shows the most significant percentage increase within the ward at Esmond Elementary School in Morgan Park. The school at 1865 W. Montvale Ave. reported 295 students this year, compared to 261 last year — a 13 percent bump, according to CPS.
Mount Greenwood Elementary School saw the biggest jump in terms of students, adding 51 children to a roster that topped 1,106 students this year. That's a 4.8 percent increase over last year, the data shows.
Meanwhile, Sutherland Elementary School at 10015 S. Leavitt St. saw the steepest decline, falling from 697 students last year to 614 students this year. This represented a 11.9 percent decrease in students, CPS said.
Because CPS allocates money to schools based on their enrollments, Sutherland stands to lose $265,234 in funding this year, according to CPS.
Principal Eric Steinmiller wasn't surprised Tuesday by the drop. In fact, he said he anticipated lower attendance earlier this summer, and no teachers or programs were impacted by the loss of students or funding.
"We prepared for this," Steinmiller said. "We are now at a space where we are extremely functional with our size."
He said the school had 730 students when he began as principal in 2014, at which point the hallways doubled as classrooms. As a result, Steinmiller said he's selected fewer students from the Options for Knowledge program.
This program allows students living outside of a neighborhood school's boundaries to apply to attend. Both Sutherland, Kate S. Kellogg Elementary School and other schools city-wide used the program to help maintain enrollment and thus school funding.
Steinmiller framed the drop as way to bring Sutherland to its idea size and said enrollment this year is still well within CPS' standards for being rated "efficient." That said, enrollment at Sutherland and Kellogg, also in Beverly, has taken center stage since O'Shea's plan to merge the two schools was announced Sept. 6.
Indeed, Kellogg's enrollment also fell — albeit by only 1.5 percent, or four students — when compared to last year. The school at 9241 S. Leavitt St. had 248 students in the most recent count, according to CPS.
The alderman has said declining participation at the two schools among parents living within the neighborhood boundaries points to the merits of his proposal.
Meanwhile, O'Shea said neighborhood enrollment at Mount Greenwood Elementary continues to increase. He has previously said the school at 10841 S. Homan Ave. is overcrowded and has doubled in size in the past decade.
O'Shea said he's successfully lobbied for two additions at Mount Greenwood in the last five years with a price tag of $13 million. But still the enrollment boom continues, so he's proposed adding a second campus by taking over the facilities used by the nearby Keller Regional Gifted Center at 3020 W. 108th St.
Keller, which dropped by three students to 241 attendees according to the latest figures, would then move to the Kellogg's campus. The Beverly facilities would become available if the proposed merger were to take place.
O'Shea has said the shifts are designed to free up money to make a "significant investment" at Esmond — an often-overlooked school with decaying buildings some of which are beyond repair and simply need to be replaced.
O'Shea said Tuesday that 10th-day figures are preliminary, and he looks forward to seeing the official 20th-day numbers that will soon be available. That said, he pointed to the declines at Sutherland as concerning.
The latest figures "do point to the fluctuations we are seeing in different parts of the ward. Mount Greenwood continues to grow," O'Shea said.
Other area schools that saw an enrollment increase include the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Barnard Elementary School, George F. Cassell Fine Arts School and Morgan Park High School.
Additional local schools that saw a enrollment declines include Clissold Elementary School and John H. Vanderpoel Humanities Academy. For a complete list of 10th-day school enrollment data, see the graph below.
Across the city, public school enrollment dropped by 3.5 percent this year compared with last, according to information provided by the district. That could mean layoffs for 300 teachers and support staff members.
During the last 10 years, enrollment has fallen 6.8 percent at public schools in Chicago, with half of that drop coming since September 2015, according to district enrollment data.
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