After three consecutive years of gradual growth, enrollment in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 has dipped slightly.
As of Sept. 5, the district had 12,192 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, which is a decrease of 37 students. There are also 187 students in the Early Childhood program at Conyers Learning Academy and another 364 students in the Early Childhood Development Educational Classroom program housed throughout eight schools.
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Deputy Superintendent Jim Garwood said 14 elementary classrooms have 30 or more students, on par with last year. Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln schools each have three sections with 30 or 31 students.
"We had hoped we'd have less of these larger class sizes this year than last year, but it turned out to be approximately the same," Garwood said.
The number likely will increase to 16 total classrooms with 30-plus students as eligible families at seven schools take advantage of a school choice option. Up to 55 students can attend Frank C. Whiteley in Hoffman Estates, the district's only school to make Adequate Yearly Progress last year. Those students would start at Whiteley on Sept. 22.
It's possible District 15 would hire another teacher there to split time between fourth and sixth grades, Garwood said.
Overall, class-size targets set by the board of education are close to being met.
In kindergarten, the intermediate grades and junior high, averages are well below the targets of 20, 26 and 28 students, respectively. At the primary level, which encompasses first through third grades, the average is slightly over the target of 24 students per class.
Garwood added that he checked with five of six area parochial schools and found that enrollment is pretty flat, as well.
He surmised that District 15's enrollment growth could be slowing due to the recovering economy. Schools in areas with higher concentrations of multifamily housing generally saw increases in student population.
Officials had taken minor measures going into this school year to cope with the past growing enrollment and space shortages. The district added a mobile classroom unit, moved students on four streets to a different school and relocated certain programs.