Enrollment numbers are a snapshot in time. On September 30 of each year, all school districts are required to report their enrollment number to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
On September 28, 2018 (September 30 was not a school day), District 86 reported 2,726 as the enrollment number for Central and 1,445 as the enrollment number for South.
Approximately 65% of students attend Central and 35% attend South.
Has the District ever conducted a demography study?
Yes. In August of 2015, demographer Dr. John Kasarda presented a demography report to the Board. Known as the Kasarda report, the report shows that Central is trending between Series B, "as projected" and Series C, "higher than projected." South is trending at Series B, "as projected."
The Kasarda report looks at a variety of factors in trying to estimate future enrollment like birth rate, housing turnover and inbound migration of households with school-age children.
There are two other factors that are likely to affect enrollment going forward, the elimination of the Buffer Zone and the current situation District 86 is in.
In June 2018, the Board eliminated the attendance area previously known as the Buffer Zone, assigning 2,244 of the total 2,870 parcels in the former Buffer Zone to South and assigning 626 parcels to Central. While the number of possible number of future students from those parcels is impossible for District 86 to know, the Board increased the attendance area for South and decreased the attendance area for Central.
Another unknown is the current effect of cuts or referendum outcome on enrollment.
In it, you can read all about the information Dr. Kasarda uses to project future enrollment, things like census data, birthrate, housing turnover and in-bound migration from the start of the study in 2014-15 to 2029-30.
Looking at the report, South is trending at Series B -- as anticipated. Central is trending between Series B and C -- as anticipated to greater than anticipated. The lowest projected year for South enrollment in Series B is 2022-23, at 1,409. The highest projected year for Central enrollment in Series B was was 2014-15 at 2,778--the report was presented right before the start of the 14-15 school year--and for Series C is 2025-26 at 2,904.
The Kasarda report does NOT account for the changes in school attendance areas made in 2018, three years after the report was created.
Now to Capacity. The official capacity of each school changes every year based on building utilization. Beginning in 2017, District Administration with the Owner's Representative and the Architect, walked every room of both Hinsdale South and Hinsdale Central to produce an accurate capacity and utilization report based on how the schools are used currently. Administration now conducts this report annually as building usage changes annually. The 2018 report can be found at the same link above (or below, for convenience).
In it, are various numbers that frequently get distorted. These are the terms to know in order to understand the facts.
September 30 enrollment number: The number of students enrolled on September 30. All school districts are required to report this number to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This number is the number ISBE uses for the state report card.
Total Capacity based on Enrollment Cap: Refers to how many students can be put in a space based on the type of room/function. There are some Special Education rooms that have a legal maximum of 13 students. PE in the gym runs at 45 students. Science labs generally only sit 24 students. The broom closet can’t be converted to a classroom because it’s not big enough.
Total Classroom Capacity: Assigns a theoretical number based on putting a body in every seat, in every classroom, every period of the day. This can work in elementary school where students sit in the same desk in the same room all day and they all take the same classes.
Why doesn't this work at the high school level? Because D86 doesn't mandate what every student takes. This is the number you will see floated around that claims D86 can get 3,412 students into Central. Not possible. Conversely, D86 has seen and heard claims that South has available space for anywhere from 400 to 1,000 students. The 400 number used lockers as the basis for that claim. To be clear, District 86 does not determine capacity of a building based on the number of lockers it has.
80% Target Utilization Rate: This is the nationwide architecture industry standard rate for high schools. This number determines the functional capacity of a building. That 80 percent figure allows for flexibility in scheduling courses. If every classroom is filled every period of the day then there is no opportunity to change from current offerings (unless something is eliminated because it becomes a zero sum game with available space).
Students in high school have a wide range of ability levels and take a wide range of courses. When people claim D86 can put a body in every seat every period of the day what that really means is our overarching goal is filling seats not educating students based on the classes they want to take to prepare for their individual ideal futures.
Here are the numbers. Note that anyone who claims that total capacity in 2018-19 is 5,900 students or 5,315 students is not using facts. 2018-19 Central South 9-30 Enrollment 2,726 1,445 80% Target Utilization Rate 2,531 1,721 Total Classroom Capacity 3,412 2,488 Total Capacity based on Enrollment Cap 3,164 2,151 Why does utilization change and how does that utilization affect capacity? Since the buildings were built, 1947 for Central and 1965 for South, instruction has changed greatly: the needs of Special Education students were not mandated by law until 1975, computers did not exist, AP courses did not exist, to give a few examples. Because instruction has changed, how the buildings are used to educate ALL students has changed.
For example, the HAVEN program which is housed at South has grown in the past couple of years from zero to three classrooms. Those three HAVEN classrooms cannot be used for anything else with the HAVEN program running in them. If we had a capacity report from four years ago, (when we didn’t have HAVEN) the capacity from today would be different than four years ago because of the utilization. Just like in your own house, if you convert your college student’s bedroom into an expanded master closet, it’s not a bedroom anymore and your home’s official capacity has changed even though your college student can still sleep on the basement couch. All that to say the projects on the April 2, 2019 referendum are not based on enrollment.