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Batavia school enrollment continues to decline

Trend expected to continue in coming years

Enrollment in Batavia School District 101 continues to decline as smaller kindergarten classes enter the system while larger high school classes graduate.
Enrollment in Batavia School District 101 continues to decline as smaller kindergarten classes enter the system while larger high school classes graduate.

BATAVIA – Student enrollment in Batavia School District 101 remains in decline, with the trend expected to continue in the foreseeable future.

This fall’s total enrollment of 5,619 represents a decrease of 94 students from last year, for a drop of about 1.6 percent.

District Chief Financial Officer Tony Inglese said the student population is expected to continue falling at a rate of 1.5 to 2 percent per year, or about 100 students each year, for the next five years.

Lower Kane County birth rates are producing kindergarten classes that are much smaller than the Batavia High School graduating classes that are leaving the district, Inglese said.

The enrollment decline has been underway for several years, gradually reducing the student total from a high of nearly 6,300 in 2013.

“The student cohorts are getting smaller and reducing overall enrollment as they percolate through the system,” Inglese said.

While this year’s crop of 373 kindergartners at Batavia’s six elementary schools is 26 students more than last year, Inglese said, the district said goodbye to 490 BHS seniors in last spring’s graduating class.

This year’s total enrollment at the high school is 1,933. There are 494 seniors, 455 juniors, 537 sophomores, and a freshman class of 487.

The effect of the smaller classes moving through the system is already cutting into enrollment at Rotolo Middle School, which serves Batavia students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Enrollment at Rotolo now stands at 1,302, a decline of about 200 over the last two years, Inglese said.

The declining enrollment trend will reach BHS at the start of school for the 2021-22 year, Inglese said.

At the K-5 elementary schools, enrollment is largest at J.B. Nelson, with 386 students. There are 373 pupils at Alice Gustafson and 353 at Louise White.

Hoover-Wood has an enrollment of 351 while there are 322 students at H.C. Storm. Enrollment at Grace McWayne is the smallest, at 285.

The total enrollment of 5,610 is called the district’s “home” enrollment. However, the district sends some Batavia students with special needs to the Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative or to private schools.

The number of students attending the district’s eight schools is called the “serving” enrollment, with that figure standing at 5,567, Inglese said.

The declining enrollment trend is expected to reduce the district’s home enrollment to about 5,000 in five years, Inglese said.

“The primary implication is on staffing,” Inglese said. So far, the district has been dealing with the reduced demand primarily through attrition.

“We’ve also needed to move teachers by shifting their responsibilities to a different grade level or a different school,” Inglese said.

Right now, the district runs very efficiently, Inglese asserted, but declining enrollment will produce challenges, particularly when it comes to class sizes.

The smaller kindergarten classes are the result of reduced Kane County birth rates, down from about 7,800 per year in 2015 to about 7,000 per year now, Inglese said. The rate appears to have stabilized, he added.

While there are a few new residential developments on the way in Batavia, these are expected to have little effect on enrollment, with many of these being senior citizen facilities and townhouse projects. The single-family home developments slated for construction will take several years to reach full build-out.

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