Some Winnetka residents have been alarmed by hearing news that Winnetka is proposing closing one of its elementary schools due to "unbalanced enrollment." Which is another way of saying that one is overcrowded and the rest running at less than full capacity.
The three Winnetka elementary schools are Crow Island, Hubbard Woods, and Greeley, plus Skokie Middle School and Washburn Junior High. For the past several years, Crow Island has seen an explosion in population, resulting in the need for temporary classrooms. Meanwhile, Greeley and Hubbard Woods have plenty of room.
To complicate matters further, extended day kindergarten is being implemented next year.
According to a parent who is involved with the Central Parent Teacher Organization and has spoken with the superintendent Trisha Kocanda, the optimal range is 80-90% utilization of space. Currently, the schools are enrolled like this:
Crow Island - 107% (and expected to remain this way until 2020)
Greeley - 73%
Hubbard Woods - 71%
Skokie Middle School - 78%
Washburn Junior High - 42%
The recent upsurge Crow Island is due mainly to zoning for this school which encompasses a more dense section of Winnetka which results in more families with young children. The temporary solution has been to implement mobile classrooms for ancillary classes such as language or music.
For more long term solutions, the school district turned to several experts including demographers and geographers. Some ideas that are being considered are:
- construction to enlarge Crow Island
- waiting for enrollment to self-correct
- reconfiguring which grades are at which schools (or perhaps going with the Glencoe model of housing all K-2 in one school, all 3-5 in another school, for example.)
- redrawing the district boundary lines
The school board has stated:
" Before any decisions are made, staff and community members will be invited to provide input through surveys and at engagement sessions to be held this fall and winter. The School Board has established an Advisory Committee of staff, parents, and community members to collaborate on the decision-making taking place throughout the Enrollment Balancing Project."
One thing is certain: Trisha Kocanda has stated that no school will be closed and that waiting for self-correction to occur is not a viable option either. The School Board would like to make a decision by March, 2017.
If you have input, comments, or suggestions, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A dedicated web page with updates has been created at: Enrollment Balancing Project
Notes from the November 1, 2016 Advisory Committee
Read latest update here: School Overcrowding Update (November 2016)
This is not just a local issue - school districts throughout the country on occasion must grapple with over or under crowding. Here's an innovative solution from Atlanta, Georgia: