BUILDING A BETTER DISTRICT

Information | Communication | Transparency | Accountability

A Movement By Citizens  Demanding Transparency, Accountability, and Community Engagement for school districts in the State of Illinois.

Building A Better District is a taxpayer-led movement and is not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, the State or Regional Board of Education, any individual school district, or administration/Board of Education. 


A Word About Growth Projections


When we talk about growth it should be noted that this relates to NEW students to the district as a result of NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION ONLY.  Homes already completed in our district should have been accounted for in any district calculations using their Student Yield Factor of .8.  Read more on Student Yield Factor.

  • Elementary Schools house six grades all the time: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5thNo matter what level of growth occurs, elementary will always be hit hardest because six grades are housed per school. 
  • With an average class size of 300-400 students, compression will always be reflected in elementary faster and more often than middle or high school.  
  • Add Early Childhood into the elementary school numbers and the problem is slightly worse with an average EC size of 150 students.
  • We currently have 14 mobile units currently in use, with 13 of them at our elementary schools. 
  • If we are properly calculating future enrollment, this should have been seen years before the mobile units were needed and the community should have been engaged in solutions prior to the first mobile unit being placed on a district property.

Comparing Rising Students to Current Students

To truly see where we are receiving NEW students, it is necessary to compare last year's "Rising Students" to this year's Actual students by grade level.  Rising students mean those students from last year that moved UP a grade this year.  We've done an analysis on the overall numbers and then took it by elementary, middle, and high school using the district's December 2023 Enrollment Report.  Here is an example of how we used the data in the various charts on this page:


From the chart to the right you can see from 2022-2023 to 2023-2024 we had:

  • 217 students added in elementary
  • 18 students added at PKMS
  • 7 students added at CMS
  • A "net" 2 students at CHS

For a total of 244 added students - 160 of which entered the district at the Kindergarten level.  What we cannot verify is how many of these students are the result of new construction.   This would be a factor a demography firm would be able to identify using data from the district and the county.


Elementary School Analysis

Lets take a deeper look into rising Elementary numbers from last school year to this school year.  In this chart you can see we gained:

              • 160 students in Kindergarten
              • 22 students in 1st Grade
              • 4 students in 2nd Grade
              • 18 students in 3rd Grade
              • 3 students in 4th Grade
              • 10 students in 5th Grade

SOURCE: D301 December 2023 Enrollment Forecast

The elementary school is at 3.2% growth in terms of additional students year over year.  The entry of Kindergarten students into the system may not constitute NEW students to the district, but rather children in homes that should already be included in the district's ".8"  Student Yield Factor that have reached the age of compulsory school enrollment.  In other words, it is highly unlikely that we had 160 kindergarten-aged students move into our district since last year given the decline in new home construction and sales in 2023.  Because of these issues, the "growth" rate excludes the 160 new enrollments from EC to KDG.


Middle School Analysis

Let's look into rising Middle School numbers from last year to this school year.  In this chart you can see we gained:

              • 10 students in 6th grade
              • 8 students in 7th grade
              • 7 students in 8th grade

SOURCE: D301 December 2023 Enrollment Forecast

This reflects a total of 25 NEW students in grades 6 through 8 for a growth rate of 2.1% in NEW students year over year.


High School Analysis

Now let's look into rising High School numbers from last year to this school year.  In this chart you can see we gained:

              • 4 students in 9th grade
              • 1 student in 10th grade
              • 3 students in 12th grade
              • We LOST 6 students in 11th grade

SOURCE: D301 December 2023 Enrollment Forecast

This reflects a total of net 2 students in grades 9 through 12 for a growth rate of .1% in NEW students year over year.

These analyses confirm our statement that growth is always going to impact our district in the elementary schools FIRST.  Because the size of the pipeline changes as kids move out of 5th grade into 6th and beyond, the full force of elementary is slowed down as they students progress. 

This analysis also reinforces what research shows: the majority of parents do not move their kids while they are in high school for sports, social, and other reasons.  

Our Current Largest High School Cohort

Our current largest 4-grade cohort is the current 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th graders.  Taken together, these grades total 1,596 students at this time.  Applying the growth rates shown above to this figure sees this group grow to 1,632 in 2026.  With Central High School at a new capacity of 1,900 in fall 2024, we should have plenty of classroom space to accommodate high school students.  Following this cohort, the next block is 1,577 -- slightly smaller than our largest cohort.  Behind that the cohort is 1,551.  This accordion affect is normal with grades moving through the district pipeline.  Slow growth rates mean slow compression in the high school with room for 1,900 students.  

Other Factors Not Taken Into Consideration Here

LIVE BIRTH RATES & OVERALL COUNTY POPULATION DECLINE

The "live birth rate" in Kane County is declining overall and has been on a downward trend for the last several years.  This means a lower number of children in our county is expected. (See St. Charles/D303 2023 Report on Kane County factors on enrollment). Kane County's population is declining on an annual basis.  This trend continues as people leave Illinois for states with lower taxes.

LOWER STUDENT YIELD NUMBERS

Kane County is seeing a lower number of children per home overall when people do move here.  This also has been trending downward for the last several years.

AGING IN PLACE

As we look towards future years there is a factor called "aging in place" that comes into play.    These are homes where district students have graduated from high school and the parents remain in the home--"aging in place", but that home no longer has students attending the district.  These homes no longer affect total enrollment and even when they are resold, their home and it's contribution to Student Yield Factor are already included in the total enrollment of the district.

SIZE OF RISING GRADES 

As new growth materializes, it is clear the growth will show up in the elementary school first, with kindergarten being the most impacted.  Using the right formulas to figure out how to capture all of these factors and pull them into a projection is something that should be done by a professional demography firm, not the district administration.

STALLED NEW CONSTRUCTION

Our research has shown several developments that were slated for development will not be developed anytime soon.  Also, Kane County's own EAV analysis for 2023 show new construction is down 16.7% over last year.  The rapid growth seen through 2021 is over.

FUTURE GROWTH PLATEAU

Eventually, growth in the district will plateau and the elementary schools will begin to see attrition in total enrollment which will work its way through the middle and high schools.  The question no one can answer is when that plateau may occur.

Please note we have created very simple data models.  Enrollment forecasting has many factors and variables and requires the work of a professional demography firm to provide short-term (1-5 years) and middle-term (5-10 years) projections for future planning.  It requires the incorporation of:

              • live birth rates (currently trending DOWN in Kane County),
              • true NEW student growth by grade,
              • current grade level sizes,
              • aging in place consideration,
              • appropriate Student Yield Factor calculations
              • confirmed start dates and projections for near-term new development and
              • careful consideration of growth plateaus that would mark the beginning of student attrition ("aging in place").

Such analyses helps districts create a phased approach to growth, addressing growth where it is happening, when it is happening, allowing for checks along the way to see if the district is on track with projected growth trends to avoid building unnecessary schools that will not be maximized in the future. 

Our Board of Education must perform their fiduciary duty and appropriate due diligence by directing the district to commission an independent Enrollment Forecast & Facilities Analysis of Central CUSD 301 before moving forward with another referendum. 

About us

We are a local group dedicated to cultivating an empowered and engaged community of parents and taxpayers to build an environment of transparency, accountability, and communication within Central Community Unified District 301 (D301), representing the unified voice of the people for a successful and sustainable future.

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Building A Better District is a volunteer community group advocating for transparency, honesty, accountability, and community engagement from Central CUSD 301 in Burlington, IL.

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