Oswego School District 308 continues to grow, but the pace has slowed significantly, according to an enrollment study done by RSP and Associates.
Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt shared the information with board members last Monday, including numbers and their significance across the district.
Currently the district has 17,732 students enrolled, compared to 17,739 last year when over 500 new students joined the district. That number includes students in preschool through highs school and all other programs – like GOAL and the Opportunity School.
“The new data implies that we're not going to grow even close to the numbers that were projected in earlier years,” said Wendt. He estimated the school district would see about 1200 students in the next five years, which he called “manageable growth.”
The majority, two-thirds, of that growth is estimated to be at the elementary level.
And with this slower growth, Wendt said he doesn’t see any new buildings being added for a while.
“We have ample capacity for moderate growth. Don’t know why we would need to build any building over the next 5-year period, maybe even stretch that out to 6 or 7 years.”
What may be changing though are boundary lines.
Wendt said he wanted to begin discussing new boundary lines next year, but they would not change until likely the 2015-16 school year.
“We have an unbelievable amount of kids not attending what I would call their ‘home’ school,” said Wendt, referring to schools within their neighborhood.
One suggestion Wendt made was to take a look at East View, currently a kindergarten center, and see how it could be used in the future.
Some schools, like Hunt Club Elementary, have unused classrooms and plenty of room for growth but other schools, like Homestead, are already full to capacity and students are being bussed around the district to schools where there is room.
This came about, explained board member Brent Lightfoot, because originally elementary schools were only designed to hold 600 students. Junior highs were designed to hold 900 and the high schools hold 2,400.
But some areas of the district have more students and elementary schools feeding into junior highs, where there is just no room.
Lightfoot used Bednarcik Jr. High as an example, which fits around 950 students but was being fed into by three elementary schools – Wolf’s Crossing, The Wheatlands and Homestead – that each had 900 student capacity.
“It doesn't work [if] you don't have enough room,” said Lightfoot. The district built Murphy Jr. High to help eliminate that strain on Bednarcik, and students from Homestead are now bussed across the district.
Above is a map of elementary school current boundaries and which junior high schools they feed into.
Overall the district is not near full capacity, as Wendt said full capacity would be 22,700 students.
The goal of the new boundary lines is to find room for future students without having any new construction.