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District 427 expects lower enrollment in future

SYCAMORE – Enrollment projections for Sycamore School District 427 show declining class sizes, less state support and potential teacher cuts in the next three to five years.

The annual projection report forecasts the district’s enrollment and its financial implications on a three-year and five-year basis, with the three-year projection providing the most accurate picture, said Luke Glowiak, assistant superintendent of business.

Three years of decreasing enrollment at the kindergarten level – down 52 students from peak levels in 2007 – could start to surface, with significant implications at the elementary level in the next three years.

The district, which has 44 fewer students than last year, saw only a five-student decrease at the elementary level, but is expected to lose 140 elementary students by 2018. The expected decrease would warrant the reduction of six teaching positions by 2018 while maintaining the class size of 24 students per teacher. The staffing reduction could save the district $396,925.

Glowiak said it is important to note that the forecast offers the board an idea of what could happen, not what will happen, because modifications always need to be made. But, because of state laws, it is much easier to hire staff than release staff, which is why board members need to plan ahead.

“If we ended up in August and needed more staff, we can go out and hire people at that point,” Glowiak said. “But if we didn’t plan for a reduction, by state law, we can’t release people at that point.”

Middle school class sizes are expected to grow from 23 students a class to 25 students a class by 2015 before declining below current class sizes in 2018, resulting in the reduction of one teaching position. That move could save the district an additional $66,154.

High school enrollment is expected to increase with class sizes growing from 26 to 27. The growth would not require additional staff.

Although the district could save some money through staff reductions, it also could lose general state aid to the tune of $525,293 a year because of the projected decrease in students. Glowiak said that number is based on the current foundation level and likely will fluctuate in coming years.

Glowiak said the report should not be considered an alarm as much as it is a road map for planning purposes.

“What this tells us is we can safely plan on no enrollment increase,” he said. “What this would tell our board is they need to take into consideration staffing patterns and student enrollment within each one of the buildings.”

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