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updated: 1/10/2018 1:09 PM

Rising enrollment at Vernon Hills High prompts talk on space needs

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  • District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at Vernon Hills High School to address increasing enrollment.

      District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at Vernon Hills High School to address increasing enrollment.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at the high school.

      District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at the high school.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills High School computer science teacher Adam Lueken, left, announces winners of Tuesday's Innovation Fair. District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at the high school.

      Vernon Hills High School computer science teacher Adam Lueken, left, announces winners of Tuesday's Innovation Fair. District 128 officials are beginning to talk about a possible classroom expansion at the high school.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills High School students fill the halls as they walk to their next classes. Enrollment at the school is increasing after remaining steady for roughly a decade.

      Vernon Hills High School students fill the halls as they walk to their next classes. Enrollment at the school is increasing after remaining steady for roughly a decade.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Rising enrollment projections at Vernon Hills High School are prompting administrators to begin talking about facility needs and a possible classroom expansion.

An estimated 1,430 students are enrolled at Vernon Hills High for the 2017-18 school year. But based on recent demographic studies, it's "highly likely" enrollment will increase to 1,600 students in three to five years, said Mary Todoric, a spokeswoman for Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128.

That's a nearly 12 percent increase.

As a result, officials are preparing to publicly review available data and discuss options starting next month.

If additional space is deemed necessary, options could include repurposing existing facilities or a building addition, Superintendent Prentiss Lea said.

Conversely, if officials determine no additional space or facilities are needed, administrators wouldn't pursue classroom expansion, Lea said.

Vernon Hills High opened in 1999 as the freshman campus for Libertyville High. Sophomores and juniors joined the school in 2000-01, and it became a four-year school in the 2001-02 term.

An estimated 1,084 students were enrolled in 2001-02, Todoric said. Enrollment grew to about 1,350 students by 2006, and it remained level for about a decade.

This year's jump to roughly 1,430 students is significant, said Dan Stanley, the district's assistant superintendent for finance. Stanley attributed the increase to the freshman class, which at 477 students is the largest in school history.

Enrollment is up and expected to continue rising, Lea said, because older homeowners in the district with grown kids are selling their houses to families with school-age children. Additionally, new housing developments in the southern end of the district eventually will lead to more students at Vernon Hills High, he said.

Hawthorn Elementary District 73, which is based in Vernon Hills and feeds into Vernon Hills High, already has experienced "significant" enrollment increases, Lea said.

District 128 officials are studying the data now before all those elementary-age students reach the high school.

Officials don't yet know if facility improvements will be needed.

"The board is at the information-gathering stage at this point," Lea said. "(The board) has not discussed the issue nor made any decisions regarding the issue."

If construction of some kind is needed, costs likely will be covered by district savings and not new revenue from a tax increase, Lea said.

Lea said it would be premature to calculate a potential construction budget "until it is determined what, if any, additional space or facilities might be needed."

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