District enrollment decline to stabilize


Sanya Rupani

A population decline over the last fourteen years is expected to continue in the near future, though at a slower rate. The cart above indicates the falling number of students enrolled in District 203. This school year, there are 16,438 students enrolled. With this current stabilization rate, the district population in 2019 will be larger than the originally-predicted 15,313 students.

Ana Turner, Staff Writer

Enrollment decline has been a recurring issue in District 203 for the past 14 years as the initial population boom ages out of the education system. In 2007, Naperville 203 was on its fifth consecutive year of enrollment decline. In October of 2007, enrollment had dropped by 176 students in one school year.

Throughout the years, enrollment has been steadily declining. The reasons have been contributed to the fact that since there was no new development in the area, there was not any extra room for population to grow. No new housing areas were being built, therefore no potential students could move in.

The other reason most stated in the declining of enrollment is the age of the population. Naperville’s population is starting to grow older, past the K-12 years.

In 2015, the enrollment continued to decline. In an attempt to predict the length that the decline would continue, District 203 hired on Charles Kofron, a demographer, to help predict the end of the continuing decline.

Bob Ross, chief operating officer of District 203 explained that Kofron was hired, “So that we can have some idea of what to expect in terms of enrollment currently and in the future. We have a responsibility to the community to list our expectations and adjust accordingly, whether that be a reduction in staff if necessary or other such things.”

Kofron studied the demographics of Naperville’s education system, costing the district $27,650. Kofron released his findings in 2015, and they showed that enrollment was projected to decline approximately 5 to 8 percent by the year of 2019. After the decline, the study showed that enrollment should stabilize.

Recent enrollment shows the  continuing decline could be coming to an end sooner than predicted. At Steeple Run, a District 203 elementary school, enrollment has increased over 100 students, exceeding the expectations.

“Recently, we are seeing from our reports that enrollment seems to be leveling off starting at an elementary level,”  Ross said.

Although stabilization has occurred in the elementary school, the past years of decline have taken a toll on Naperville Central.

“We’ve had to reduce our staffing a bit,” Central’s Principal William Wiesbrook l said. “The amount of teachers is dependent on the amount of students enrolled. When enrollment was at its highest we had to have some mobile structures in the school that had classrooms to fit everyone.”

Even with the decline, District 203 is not worried because they know it will stabilize, as the enrollment in the elementary schools has proven. Kofron’s predictions put everyone at ease.

“I am not worried about the enrollment decline at all really,” Ross said. “It didn’t come as much of a surprise to us because we have had a pretty accurate prediction of what to expect.”