The topic of student capacity in high schools has sparked discussion over the years as economic development continues. On April 12, District 204’s Board of Education and RSP & Associates presented a recent enrollment study that provides analysis through the theoretical 2025-26 school year. The study found that 204’s enrollment is projected to approximately decrease by 25,000 students by 2025-26. The school board is going over potential solutions to balance enrollment across schools.
Matt Shipley, District 204 Chief School Business Official, is aware that there is declining enrollment in certain schools due to multiple areas being limited locations for new residential developments. Neuqua Valley is expected to be 75 percent under capacity, while Metea Valley is expected to remain overcapacity.
“Our recommendation which the board is following up with a workshop meeting on May 17 to start a comprehensive boundary study process,” Shipley said. “That would be a process that will start in the summer and go through to December- or, at least, that is what we propose.”
Boundary reviews are a potential solution to balancing enrollment more evenly across the district. The proposal for how those boundaries can be modified would include significant community involvement.
If the board determines that boundary modification is necessary, community members will join a team that meets regularly to help with planning.
“Any changes that would be a part of this process we would be proposing to take place for the 2022-23 school year,” Shipley said. “Part of the committee’s charge would be to look at how we would handle students who potentially need to change schools, and if there would be a grandfathering process.”
The grandfathering process is when certain students are allowed to continue to attend their school due to their situation, such as a junior student moving away to a different school area but still being allowed to continue to finish their senior year at the same school they were originally enrolled in. The new policy would apply to future students, with some students being exempt due to their situation.
Sophomore Tatiana McBurnie does not feel that Metea is overcrowded due to the spacious hallways.
“There are always new students coming and going, so trying to move kids from different neighborhoods all around is complicated- and more work than there needs to be done,” McBurnie said.
Despite students feeling like the hallways are spacious enough, the overpopulation at Metea causes some class sizes to be much larger than others.
Shipley states that balanced enrollment across the district provides a better learning experience for all students.
“We recognize that, with Metea’s current situation being at or over capacity, there are limitations to the opportunities we can provide, and whether that is because class sizes are larger, or we may be at capacity for some electives in the near future,” Shipley said. “We feel that by balancing enrollment that will create a situation where we potentially have smaller class sizes and not have space constraints we currently do.”
Shipley encourages students and parents to actively participate in the discussion. On May 17 at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting there will be a workshop to further discuss the topic.
“We do not want any solution to be put together by the administration exclusively,” Shipley said. “We want all stakeholders to be involved in the process.”