District 97 projects enrollment to reach 6,000 by 2018

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Enrollment at District 97 is expected to increase by roughly 300 kids over the next five years with overall enrollment reaching just over 6,000 students.

That's according to projections by the district's research firm, Ehlers and Associates, a company based in Lisle. The firm conducted an enrollment study in 2011 for both D97 and Oak Park and River Forest High School showing enrollment increasing in both districts. The firm's latest D97 study, released this week, shows enrollment there increasing by 300 students by 2018.

Kindergarten remains the driving force for the steady uptick in enrollment, according to the firm's findings. D97 officials expected such a trend when the district moved to an all-day kindergarten program in 2009.

D97's current enrollment is about 5,800 students. Prior to the launch of full-day K, enrollment hovered around 5,000 students. By 2018, enrollment is projected at 6,041 students, according to Ehlers. The firm's data shows an enrollment jump of about 100 students for the upcoming school year.

The largest overall increases in the next five years are expected at Brooks and Julian middle schools. By 2018, each school is projected to top just over 1,000, the highest enrollment ever for either building since construction in 2002. Julian's current enrollment is about 900 students and for Brooks roughly 880.

Some of the elementary schools should also expect more students between now and 2018.

Holmes School, whose current enrollment is about 517 students, is expected to grow to 550 by 2018. Longfellow, with a current student body of 667 kids, is projected to have just over 700 students in 2018. Beye is expected to experience a slight increase to 449 students, up from 422 students currently. Irving over the next five years will see its enrollment increase to 550 kids, up from 490 students now.

The other elementary schools are expected to maintain their levels, though Mann School is projected to decrease to 464 students compared to 504 students enrolled this past school year.

The full Ehlers and Associates report is available at D97's website.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2013 11:17 AM

So 300 children added to the current 5,800, over the next 5 years. Roughly a 1% annual increase. Given the population growth, this isn't an extraordinary number, is it? This could actually be a percentage decrease in relation to the size of the overall pie. And how does this number compare to other communities' numbers? Context. Can we have some context to give meaning to this 300 number? Right now, it's sitting in a bubble.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 10:52 PM

There are those that act as if OP is Camelot. It is charming, congenial, educationally superb, friendly, generous, socially splendid, sophisticated, etc. But there are others who think it a nice place to live and some that wish they could move. They all fit in. I happen to be in the nice place to live category and believe that we really can't afford to have any more more of the "want to get out of here" segment actually leaving. It is unlikely that there ever will be nightclubs in OP and no room for another golf course, but that does not mean that the village has to be living in the past and more than a little boring. The 2013 election said the voters want change, and the board and staff recognized that. So, pay attention and get involved. Nothing will change if the residents and business shift back to moaning and whining. If nothing else maybe home values can be improved and taxes lowered so the "want to get out of here" can leave with with some sent of reward.

Good luck  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 8:57 PM

Renters and childless both add something to the mix. But when I first moved to OP as a single person I was mocked by most other single people I knew as moving to a "stroller suburb." Why would I want to live there? IMO our reputation as family-oriented works for us out of necessity though. We simply don't have the ability to transform to something else being built-out with an established vibe. We won't be adding nightclubs, golf courses, or whatever else attracts people to other cities.


Posted: June 13th, 2013 8:21 PM

Jmb the property tax balance is askew. If we really charged rentals the cost of services would we would have any renters? Do they see increases of 800 every 3 years? No b/c the market wouldny work. The majority of tax burden falls to homes. It's OPs lot that we have alot of rental housing

Michael Nevins  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 8:20 PM

@Good luck - read the obits in the WJ and you'll quickly realize that your opinion on Oak Park has flaws. Many of the deceased are noted as long-term OP residents and that they lived here until (or almost so) they departed for a more glorious community. I've lived here all of my life and I assure you that the value, now diminishing due to extreme prop taxes, of "community" in Oak Park (and River Forest) is shared and sought by many. And always the #1 reason for living in OP has been location.

Good luck  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 7:14 PM

Property tax has nothing to do with it, John. The concern of Speedway was about increasing needs of people who use/want the good schools. It's a dumb thing to complain about. Being family-oriented is a great thing, not a bad thing. No matter how much property tax one pays, it is in their best interest for most of that money to go to schools because they are such a driver for community well-being. My being "arrogant" was b/c most residents already know that. To say otherwise is tough to sell.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 6:59 PM

Good Luck - They pay property if they own and the owner pays property taxes if they rent.

Good luck  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 6:32 PM

13,000 is still the majority of households. Not saying be invisible. Just don't complain if the culture leans "family." Most of my childless neighbors spend no time here. They rent. They go to Chicago bars, concerts, restaurants, etc. They leave in a few years.

Village Voice  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 5:46 PM

@Good Luck: Of 23,000 households in OP, only 13,000 are family households. And OP's average household size of 2.25 is significantly lower than the Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois averages of 2.6, probably among of the lowest in the region. My god, your numerous childless neighbors really are invisible and insignificant to you, aren't they? If your ideal community is a monoculture of nuclear family households, perhaps you should have considered Naperville.

Good luck  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 3:58 PM

@Village Voice just look at the demographics. Nearly a quarter of Oak Park is under 18. Only 10% are over-65 years. And the typical household has over 2 people.

Village Voice  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 11:33 AM

"Good Luck" represents the arrogance, presumptuousness, and self-centeredness of the current generation of Oak Park home buyer. They are oblivious that about half our housing stock is apartments and condos and half our households are singles. But to them, people not engaged in making babies, i.e. singles, gays, and retirees are invisible or second class citizens in the new Oak Park social hierarchy.


Posted: June 13th, 2013 11:33 AM

Speedway-Good point. We need to have incentives for empty nesters/retirees to stay in OP. Any homeowner with no children enrolled in school is basically a profit center for the village. These folks are typically low maintenance as they do not utilize the services (ie schools) like a family with 3 kids would. Without a good balance, our schools will become overcrowded and property taxes will be even higher. Property tax caps where they still contribute yet are not overburdened is a good start.

Good luck  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 10:20 AM

We're not a good place to retire and the nightlife sucks for single people. Families are pretty much why OP exists.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 13th, 2013 8:26 AM

Develop one of the best school systems in the area and they will come. When their children have outgrown the need, then they will leave. If all we want from our community is an education center for transient citizens to utilize and leave the rest of us who find Oak Park more than just schools to pay more and more to keep up with the increasing needs of people who are just here for the educational benefits for their kids. I believe some rethinking is in order here.

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