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Dist. U-46 data reveals costs up, students down

By Seth Hancock
  School District U-46 continues to spend more despite declining enrollment.
  Earlier this school year Jeff King, chief operations officer, presented this year’s enrollment which was at 39,711, down 426 students from 40,137 in 2015.
  The Fiscal Year 2017 budget, approved by a 5-2 vote (Cody Holt and Jeanette Ward voting no) earlier this year, has total spending at $511.4 million which is an increase of $3.8 million from $507.6 million the previous year. U-46 is spending $57.7 million more than in the 2012-13 school year, but according to the Illinois Report Card by the Illinois State Board of Education the district had 976 more students with 40,687 in enrollment in 2012.
  U-46 saw decreases in enrollment this year at every level except middle school where there was an increase of 282 students. Five of eight middle schools saw increases with four over 40, Elgin’s Abbott seeing the largest at 123, and one school experiencing a drop of more than 40, Streamwood’s Canton which lost 41 students.
  There are 35 fewer students enrolled in early childhood classes and 226 fewer in programs such as Center House.
  At the elementary level, there are 342 fewer students while 23 of 40 schools saw their enrollment decrease. Four elementary schools had an increase in students by over 40, Elgin’s Coleman by 140 and Elgin’s Highland by 128 for the largest increases, and seven saw a decrease of over 40, Hoffman Estates’ Lincoln by 201 and Elgin’s Channing by 146 for the largest declines.
  King said the elementary school’s numbers were “mainly due to the boundary changes that took place” this school year.
  At the high school level, there are 175 fewer students total with only one high school seeing an increase. One school lost more than 40 students, Bartlett which dropped by 53.
  For class sizes 679 classrooms, 77 percent, have a lower student to teacher ratio than the district’s standards while 138, 16 percent, have a higher ratio and 59, 7 percent, are at the standard.
  The average general education class size at the elementary level is 21 for kindergarten, 22 at first, 24 at second, 25 at third, 24 at fourth, 27 at fifth and 26 at sixth. For dual language and English Language Learners (ELL) it’s 20 at kindergarten, 24 at first, 23 at second, 24 at third, 24 at fourth, 23 at fifth and 23 at sixth.
  King said for ELL classrooms “we’re supposed to be at 90 percent of the regular education class size.”
  At the middle school level King said the average class size for core classes is 25, and it’s 18 for high school.
  Board member Phil Costello asked: “Overall, we are going down about 1 percent. What is the impact for revenue on that?”
  King said it should be minor since the state averages attendance.
  “It’ll be in the rear, so there won’t be an impact for this particular year, it’ll be next year,” King said. “But actually it’s not based on our enrollment, it’s our average daily attendance” which is averaged “over three years.”



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