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Juarez Alone In Enrollment Hike Among Pilsen And Little Village Schools

By  Ariel Cheung and Tanveer Ali | September 29, 2017 6:18am 

 More than 300 young string musicians perform at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
More than 300 young string musicians perform at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
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Jasmin Shah

PILSEN — While Chicago Public Schools saw a drop of more than 8,000 students compared to last year, a neighborhood high school in Pilsen grew by more than 100 students.

Student enrollment at Benito Juarez Community Academy rose 8.5 percent, adding 137 students for a total of 1,744 on the 10th day of school, according to numbers released earlier this week.

But even schools in Chicago with drastic declines in population will not lose money because of it, as Chicago Public Schools officials announced Monday. Instead, those schools will keep the $35 million they would have lost if CPS had man cuts based on 10th day enrollment, as it has in the past.

Schools with more students than anticipated will get additional money from the district, which funds schools based on the number of students they have, officials said.

RELATED: CPS Enrollment Drops, But Some Schools See Big Gains: Search Your School

At Juarez, that means $381,196 added to its budget for a total of $13,849,361 and an increase of 4 percent from its 2016-17 budget.

School administrators did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, Juarez lost six teachers and four support staff positions in district-wide cuts ahead of the start of the school year.

Juarez, 1450 W. Cermak Road, is a majority Hispanic high school, and almost all of its students come from low-income households. Eighty percent of its students graduate within five years, and half attend college — some of which with prestigious, full-ride scholarships.

Benito Juarez Community Academy [DNAinfo]

In 2015, Juarez led neighborhood schools and was ranked 15th in CPS schools in earning the most college scholarships.

Teachers and students praised educator collaboration, and the school prides itself on the 2015 launch of its International Baccalaureate program, which fosters creative thinking skills.

Last year, a University of Chicago study showed that students at neighborhood high schools in the city can success academically just as well as those who attend prestigious, selective enrollment high schools like Whitney Young or Lane Tech.

As a neighborhood school, Juarez has open enrollment for high school students on the Lower West Side, including the Pilsen and Heart of Chicago neighborhoods. Its freshmen come from Jungman, Orozco, Perez, Pickard, Pilsen, Ruiz, Walsh and Whittier elementary schools.

Juarez was the only school in Pilsen and Little Village to see an increase in students compared to last year. Some lost almost 100 students.

The worst drops in enrollment were in Little Village at Crown and Community Links high schools, which both lost more than one-fifth of their student bodies.

Community Links High School, part of the John Spry Community School where students study year-round and graduate in three years, dropped to 127 students from 162 the year before.

Farragut High School in Little Village lost 99 students, roughly 12 percent of its student body of 818 pupils last year. Other school bodies that shrank by more than 10 percent were Whittier, Finkl and Cardenas.