Morgan Park High School, Esmond Elementary and Sutherland Elementary all lost roughly a tenth of their student populations compared to last year, data collected by CPS on the 10th day of school showed.
The high school at 1744 W. Pryor Ave. fell 144 students short of its projections — the largest drop from expected counts than any other public school in Chicago. Morgan Park had 1,288 pupils on the 10th day this year, compared with 1,420 last year and 1,434 in the 2015-16 school year.
Carisa Parker, chairwoman of the Local School Council, was disappointed by the 9.3 percent population decline at the school affectionately known as Empehi. She thinks financial issues facing the city's public schools pushed some students to other districts.
Esmond Elementary at 1865 W. Montvale Ave. saw the greatest drop, by percentage, compared to the other schools in the 19th Ward. The Morgan Park elementary school had 258 students on the 10th day of class this year, compared to 291 last year — a 11.34 percent decline.
Sutherland Elementary at 10015 S. Leavitt St. in Beverly had 557 students on the 10th day this year, a 9.58 percent drop compared to the 616 students that attended last year. The local school council there unanimously selected Margaret Burns as the new principal Sept. 14.
Burns served as assistant principal at nearby Barnard Elementary School for the last four years. This school at 10354 S. Charles St. in Beverly saw a 4.23 percent increase in enrollment on the 10th day of school this year with 296 students in class.
Upon naming the new principal, council members at Sutherland credited Burns for creating a successful outreach program that brought neighborhood students back to Barnard. They hope she will have similar success attracting such students to Sutherland, which is emerging from a tumultuous three years that culminated in the resignation of former Principal Eric Steinmiller on July 19.
Part of the upheaval also involved a proposed merger of Sutherland with Kellogg Elementary School in North Beverly. Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) said both schools were forecast to see enrollment declines in the coming years and could be combined to make more room for the projected increase at Mount Greenwood Elementary School.
Indeed, Mount Greenwood continued to see its student population surge this year, with 1,129 students enrolled on the 10th day. The school at 10841 S. Homan Ave. saw a 1.99 percent increase in its student population.
An addition to the Mount Greenwood campus will soon be underway that will increase the capacity to 1,300 students by adding 11 new classrooms, an art room and additional bathrooms. A new lunchroom will also be built in an existing building as part of the $20 million addition.
This construction effort replaced O'Shea's proposed merger and also included another $20 million in improvements to Esmond. The effort is designed to shrink the school with capacity for 840 students by getting rid of a dilapidated addition that was built in the 1970s.
When complete, Esmond will have the capacity for about 400 students.
Meanwhile, Kellogg Elementary defied predictions by adding to its student population. The school at 9241 S. Leavitt St. had 258 students on the 10th day of class this year, compared to 250 last year.
Kellogg Principal Cory Overstreet credited the 3.2 percent increase to parents and community members getting the word out to parents of potential students. He also said that the school has a list of 800 students from outside the neighborhood interested in attending.
But he said Kellogg pulled just 10 children off the list this year, and all of them were incoming kindergartners. Overstreet said this shows that more and more students living within Kellogg's boundaries are choosing to attend the school.
"We did a lot of marketing, an open house and we created a public relations committee," Overstreet said. "It is definitely a better situation than we were in last year."