NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way School District 210 officials presented enrollment data to the school board last week that projected declining student populations in the coming years.
The data presented at Thursday’s board meeting by Brian Murphy, the district’s technology director, did not factor in future growth or students placed out of the district.
In one chart based on figures from feeder districts of student enrollment as of Oct. 15, District 210’s enrollment of 6,954 for the 2016-17 school year is estimated to decrease by 81 next school year.
In another chart accounting for the estimated 98 percent of students in the class of 2021 – current eighth-graders – and beyond enrolling into District 210, Murphy said the district can anticipate a drop in enrollment between 80 to 115 students next school year.
Enrollment ultimately is projected to decrease to 6,188 or 6,064 for the 2022-23 school year.
Taryn Atwell, the district’s spokeswoman, stated in an email Friday that the numbers presented at Thursday’s meeting only account for current students in feeder schools and are not representative of potential growth.
“The district will continue to monitor enrollment numbers from feeder districts to determine if there are additional move-ins to the area,” Atwell stated. “At this time, however, it is best to be conservative with our estimates. We will continue to operate three schools for the foreseeable future.”
Declining student enrollment was one of the factors district officials have said led to the district’s financial troubles and the closing of Lincoln-Way North High School.
The additions of North and West high schools in 2008 and 2009 were made to meet projected growth in student population that never came. Enrollment projections were not matching reality as early as fiscal 2006. The board approved closing North in 2015 as part of its deficit reduction plan.
The architectural capacity of Lincoln-Way Central and East is 3,750 students, while West’s is 2,500 students. According to the 2016 Illinois Report Card, enrollment for the 2015-16 school year was – excluding the now-closed Lincoln-Way North – 1,902 at Central, 2,151 at East and 1,310 at West.
By comparison, Joliet Township High School District 204 has seen steady enrollment growth over the years with total district enrollment – including two high schools and an alternate school – at 6,417 students this year. Joliet West High School has 3,261 students, and Central has 3,095 students.
Lincoln-Way board member Christopher Kosel said looking at data from Murphy’s presentation, between the 2016-17 and 2022-23 school years Lincoln-Way West would lose the least amount of students compared to Central and East, as all three schools decline in enrollment.
“The schools are becoming closer in size as time goes on,” Kosel said.