Enrollment projection errors create school turmoil

Susan Troller:

But because the projected enrollment numbers don’t match the actual numbers of students at Stephens this year, one grades 2-3 classroom is being dropped, with students assigned to other classrooms and Bazan’s job at Stephens eliminated.
The same scenario is playing out at five other elementary schools where teachers and sections are being eliminated due to smaller than expected student populations, district spokesman Ken Syke said. Meanwhile, nine elementary schools are over projected enrollments and will be adding sections to address bursting-at-the-seams populations.
The district will add 10 classes at these schools to add capacity. Four teachers will be hired, in addition to shifting teachers from the under-enrolled schools.
Schools where classes are being eliminated include Crestwood, Falk, Kennedy, Randall, Schenk and Stephens. Schools that are adding teachers include Glendale, Hawthorne, Lake View, Mendota, Marquette, Muir, Sandburg, Thoreau and Leopold. Two teachers will be added at Leopold, which had a particularly large increase in students.

4 thoughts on “Enrollment projection errors create school turmoil”

  1. As a parent of a Stephens 3rd grader, I found this article interesting, if confusing. What is the definition of “overenrolled” versus “underenrolled” schools? The Stephens 2/3 situation this year was expected to be very tight–they added one classroom teacher and an additional SAGE teacher (allowing for 30 kids more than last year I believe). They now eliminated the “regular” class, but not the SAGE room. My daughter now has 26 kids in her class–her teacher ran out of chairs. (SAGE does keep her morning group at 15.)
    I also found the emphasis of the article alarming given the upcoming referendum. Are people going to interpret this as evidence that no new school is needed on the far west side? I am sure it is–as one piece of evidence, there are 7 kindergarden rooms at Stephens this year, up from 6 last year.

  2. This is simply what happens when the budget is as tight as it is. There was less money available for reserve allocation in last year’s budget and the district doesn’t have many options as a result. At one school, for instance, 10 sections were 1 student under their SAGE number. In order to deal with increased enrollment at another school, a section there was eliminated and the students in that room dropped one by one into the remaining classrooms. Reallocation is incredibly painful for everyone involved. Teams that have worked hard to prepare for a year together (many on unpaid summer hours), are split apart because 15-30 students less than expected showed up at the door–or the predicted number showed up at the door, but not at the right grade levels. Classrooms are shifted, teachers (generally the least experienced due to seniority rules)are thrust from one environment to another where they have to hit the ground running. If they are lucky, they are able to work at the grade level they were already planning to teach. In most cases, they are not lucky. In my school, every classroom below 4/5 and one classroom at 4/5 will be impacted as students or teachers or both are removed to reshuffle classlists. No one wants to do this. Not the administration, not the teachers, and certainly not the students. It isn’t good for anyone. Think the schools aren’t doing enough to innovate? Innovation requires serious committment, planning and preparation by the people involved. It usually means a lot of time over the summer. It isn’t very sustainable when we can’t count on actually working with predictable people or grade levels.
    I’m sure some will find some way to place blame where it doesn’t belong, but the reality is, the district doesn’t have a crystal ball to predict an increase of 90 some students at the elementary level, and it doesn’t get to pick where people will decide to move to or from during the summer. Until shaving fifty or a hundred bucks off of our property taxes becomes less important than allowing a school district to absorb these kinds of fluctuations, this is going to continue to happen year, after year, after year, after year…..

  3. My kids attend Kennedy. We lost a Kindergarten allocation. Now three of our 4 kindergartens are at 23–yes 23–and one is at 22.
    While I understand that this move is based on kid to teacher ratio and fiscal responsibility, did anyone take into account that most, if not all, of the classrooms are now at the MAX!!? We are also in an area of growing housing development that includes multiple family and single family housing. While I agree with teacher L that no crystal ball exists and the district does the best it can to “predict”, there are so many factors here that in Kennedy’s case were missed. We are not a SAGE school so the magic number of 15 per class or 2 classes doubled for 30 does not exist. We are also not at Title school so if children need remediation or acceleration of any type, it is up to the teachers. While our PTA is actively recruiting volunteers to help out, I can’t help but feel a bit dissed by the powers that be. Now as children move in, each class will grow.
    While I am happy for the schools that were awarded another allocation based on the magic number of 15, I am saddened by the fact that Kennedy is the only school on the list that lost an allocation, does not have additional help for the kids, and has reached and surpassed the 500 mark. I also hear that the way in which an Asst. Principal is given to schools that surpass 500 has changed. I really feel the kids will suffer.
    As a parent and supporter of public education, I will do what I can to help the district promote it’s needs, including the overcrowding on the West side. It gets continually more difficult to try to justify this to a school community that is to the max in each classroom.
    To those who have had to switch around to make things work, you are in my thoughts. At least it happened sooner this year.

  4. Karen, KS and Teacher L;
    I want to encourage you to sign up for a new yahoo group which advocates for our Madison Public Schools. I’m sure this article and allocations will be a discussion for future emails.
    Sign up at:
    Put down school #3 as Crestwood where we lost a teacher and increased enrollment from last year to 92% capacity. Crestwood reported 397 from 387 last September 2005.

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