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Enrollment Growth Slows At Crowded Far Northwest Side Schools: Data

By Heather Cherone | September 30, 2016 5:06am
 Nearly half of all Far Northwest Side schools are overcrowded again this year, according to CPS data.
Nearly half of all Far Northwest Side schools are overcrowded again this year, according to CPS data.
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PORTAGE PARK — Enrollment at all Far Northwest Side elementary schools rose only moderately this year or dropped, according to data released by Chicago Public Schools officials.

That is a big change from last year, when eight elementary schools experienced double-digit growth in the number of students, worsening school overcrowding throughout the Far Northwest Side.

Despite the slowdown in enrollment growth, approximately half of Far Northwest Side schools will remain overcrowded this year, according to data released this week by CPS officials.

Several aldermen have called overcrowding a "persistent and critical" problem at schools throughout the Far Northwest Side.

Oriole Park Elementary School will see its enrollment grow by 4 percent, the most of any kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school on the Far Northwest Side, according to CPS data. A new annex opened in September 2015 to relieve overcrowding at the Norwood Park school, 5424 N. Oketo Ave.

Because the district funds schools based on the number of students they have, Oriole Park Elementary will see its budget for 2016-17 cut by approximately $40,000 as compared with last year's budget — about half of what district officials expected in July, according to CPS data.

Edison Park Elementary School, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., and Farnsworth Elementary School, 5414 N. Linder Ave., in Jefferson Park, each saw their enrollments grow by approximately 3 percent, according to CPS data.

Citywide, student enrollment dropped by 3.5 percent this year compared with last, according to CPS data.

RELATED: Check Your School's Final Budget And Enrollment

Portage Park Elementary School suffered the biggest drop in enrollment this year as compared to the 2015-16 school year of any Far Northwest Side school, losing 7.7 percent of its students.

That means the budget for the neighborhood school at 5330 W. Berteau Ave. will have been cut by approximately $427,000 during the last year, according to CPS data.

Dever Elementary School in Dunning saw its enrollment drop by 4.5 percent this year as compared to last year, according to CPS data. In the past year, the school has lost approximately $316,000, according to CPS data.

The drop in enrollment this year means Dever will no longer be considered overcrowded by school officials based on the district's utilization formula, according to CPS data.

In addition, Canty Elementary School in Dunning is no longer overcrowded after an $18 million annex — which includes 15 classrooms, a computer lab, music room, multipurpose room and administrative offices — opened earlier this month.

The only other Far Northwest Side school to see its enrollment drop was Gray Elementary School in Portage Park. The school lost 3.7 percent of its enrollment, according to CPS data.

Enrollment at Bridge Elementary School in Dunning, which grew 15 percent last year, will be unchanged this year, according to CPS data. It was the second-most crowded school in Chicago last year.

Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) announced plans in July to build a $7 million, eight-classroom modular building at Bridge to ease overcrowding.

But because CPS officials expected 10 more students to attend the Dunning school than actually registered for class, it will see its budget slashed by approximately $135,000 more than anticipated in July, according to CPS data.

Enrollment at Ebinger Elementary School in Edison Park grew 3 percent, which means 801 students will study in a building meant to house 510 students.

Ebinger parents and school officials have been promised a new annex for years, and many were angry when other schools were tapped earlier this year to be expanded.

Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., will remain the most crowded public high school in Chicago, with 3,297 students attending class in a building meant for 2,184 pupils, according to CPS data.

It is a different story for three other neighborhood high schools on the Northwest Side.

Schurz, Foreman and Steinmetz high schools lost an average of 11.5 percent of their students, according to CPS data.

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