There are more little kindergarteners in Homewood District 153 this year than there has been since 2001.
The 25 percent increase in the class size, from an average of 160 to today’s 195 students, forced the district to add an additional kindergarten class at Willow School, where children pre-school through second grade are served.
Now administrators are trying to figure out if the increase is a trend or a fluke?
“It’s very possible that in 2019 we could be back to 160. I would predict that, but it’s hard to know,” Superintendent Dale Mitchell told board of education members at the March 12 meeting. He asked the board to consider undertaking an enrollment study as it prepares for long-range changes and looks at facility needs.
Mitchell said historically, as the kindergarten class moves through to the upper grades, it gains 10 to 12 students a year. By seventh or eighth grade, the class should be around 260 students.
But this 195 number doesn’t follow that trend and Mitchell isn’t sure if the usual 10 to 12 additional students also will enroll.
The last time enrollment spiked was in 1998. The district enrolled 209 kindergarteners. Then it had 228 kindergarteners in 2001. Since then, the enrollment numbers have been between 150 and 170, with the exception of 2008, when just 128 kindergarteners were registered.
Mitchell said an improving economy is helping home sales in Homewood. That could be part of the reason more students are entering District 153. He added that new parents also comment on the district’s excellent reputation.
At the February board meeting, members said they would be hiring consultants for a space study and financial modeling that can help the board with its long-range decisions. The proposals are now being reviewed by the board’s finance and property committees.