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Batavia school enrollments continue to decline

Lower birth rates reducing student numbers

Public school enrollments continue to drop in Batavia, with a substantial decrease anticipated in the fall at Rotolo Middle School.
Public school enrollments continue to drop in Batavia, with a substantial decrease anticipated in the fall at Rotolo Middle School.

BATAVIA – Student enrollment in Batavia School District 101 will decline at a rate of about 2 percent annually for the next five years.

With 5,898 students registered last fall, it is projected that enrollment will have dropped to 5,428 for the start of the 2022-23 school year.

That is the calculation coming from district Chief Financial Officer Tony Inglese, who said declining birth rates have been producing smaller kindergarten classes year after year.

“Our enrollments have gone down the last five years,” Inglese said, from a high of nearly 6,300 students in 2013.

However, the number of students at Batavia High School, now at about 1,950, is expected to increase slightly next fall by about 60 students, and remain stable for about four years before starting to decline, Inglese said.

After the current crop of eighth-graders, smaller classes of students are coming up through the school system, Inglese said.

As a result, the number of students attending Rotolo Middle School will decline significantly, Inglese said. Next fall’s enrollment is estimated at 1,376, a drop of about 140 students from the current total.

The school district’s strong academic reputation has produced a three-year trend of student move-ins, and this partially has mitigated the effects of smaller kindergarten classes entering the system.

“Despite this, enrollment in grades [kindergarten through fifth grade] is projected to decline by 40 next year due to smaller birth rates,” Inglese wrote in a report to the Batavia School Board.

In 2016, the Kane County birth rate was down slightly more than 3 percent from the previous year.

“This trend suggests that kindergarten enrollment will continue to decline for the foreseeable future,” Inglese wrote in his report.

The result will be reduced state and federal funding, which is based on enrollment figures.

A school district advisory council consisting of representatives from the staff, school board and the public is recommending a reduction in the district’s staff by eight to 10 positions next fall.

Currently, the school district has employees totaling about 630 full-time equivalents, including teachers, administrators and various categories of support personnel.

Both Inglese and Chief Academic Officer Brad Newkirk said the district will seek to make the reductions through retirements and attrition rather than layoffs.

“We are not recommending any programs to be cut or any major change to services we provide for students or staff,” Newkirk wrote in a memo to the School Board.

“Because of declining enrollments, we would expect to see reductions from all classes of employees as opportunities and efficiencies are examined,” Newkirk wrote.

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