Naperville 203 officials recommending 21 new hires for 2023-24

Citing increasing enrollments and mental health needs, Naperville Unit District 203 officials are recommending the addition of 21 full-time positions for the 2023-24 school year.

Administrators at the early childhood, elementary, junior high and high school level detailed the positions at Monday's board meeting. Board members are scheduled to vote on the recommendation at their March 20 meeting.

"In addition to enrollment increases that we're seeing," Superintendent Dan Bridges said, "we're also seeing increasing needs for supporting students and providing additional resources to support our educators in supporting students."

While early childhood enrollment levels are anticipated to stay consistent over the next five years and high school enrollment is expected to dip, administrators said, enrollment increases are projected at the elementary and junior high levels.

A 3% to 6% increase is expected for the elementary school level, including the addition of approximately 57 students in the 2023-24 school year. Jefferson and Lincoln will see the bulk of a 60-student boost next school year at the district's junior highs.

Administrators are recommending a 3.41 increase in full-time positions at the elementary school level, 8.5 additional positions for junior highs and 6.3 new student services positions.

Lisa Xagas, the district's assistant superintendent of student services, said a 20% enrollment increase is expected at Connections, which provides transition services for students with special needs.

An addition of 2.9 positions to the high school staff is being requested despite decreasing enrollments at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools. Officials said the request is due to increased numbers among English language learners and the needs of students requiring special education services.

Xagas said student services staff members, including therapists, social workers and psychologists, are expecting an increased workload throughout the district in the coming years.

"We've also put several best practices in place as a district, like the signs of suicide program and behavior threat assessment," Xagas said. "We're thinking through the workload and the stress that we're putting on our educators due to changing needs."

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