Fewer District 202 residents are attending non-public schools, but the high school is not seeing a surge in its enrollment as a result.
In June 2007, 245 residents were attending non-public schools compared to 304 students in June 2006, according to the district’s Opening School Report. The change is mostly attributed to the drop in the number of District 202 students attending Loyola Academy.
"We called them and asked them who was at their school that belonged in our attendance area and I think what they’re doing is looking at addresses so the numbers I think are close but they may not be perfect because the private schools don’t really know our boundaries," said Judith Levinson, district director of research, evaluation, and assessment.
ETHS enrollment decreased for the second year in a row after an increase in the 2005-2006 school year. This year the school has 2970 students, 71 fewer students than the year before.
Demographically, the white population has shown slight decreases over the last five years, as well as the black population. The number of Hispanic students is increasing slightly.
This school year 47 percent of the high school’s students are white, 36.3 percent are black, .1 percent are Native American, 3.1 percent are Asian, 10.7 percent are Hispanic, and 2.9 percent are multiracial.
Unlike District 65, the high school has not tightened it’s residency requirements and so board members were questioning why the student population continues to drop every year.
"We have actually been predicting now that we’ll have five years of declining enrollment and it’s really reflected nationally," said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. "There are fewer school-aged children in schools across the nation. It’s a function of population and we are reflective of that."
In addition to the presentation of the Opening School Report during Monday night’s board meeting, the district broached the subject of including physical education in the students’ grade point averages for the second time.
"We are proposing that we include PE in the GPA because we feel that this would encourage students to do well," said Marilyn Madden, interim assistant superintendent.
"Also the curriculum in PE has been improved greatly. It’s quite rigorous now and students have quite a bit of written work. We don’t feel it would hurt our top students. It might level the playing field."
Most of the school board members said that they’ve heard support for the initiative from both parents and students through various forums.
"I asked the question is there anyone here that can give me any real reason why we shouldn’t do this. And universally there was no reason whatsoever why we wouldn’t benefit from doing this," said board member Omar Khuri.
However during the public session, senior Ian Finder spoke against the concept.
"I’d like to state that I don’t believe that you really do have the support of the entire student body," he said.
"The fact is that we have a large population at ETHS…that are completely overworked. I’m not going to say that health isn’t important, but to put a class that essentially involves playing games in the same criteria as a class that involves doing research, it’s almost an insult to our top students."
The district is receiving feedback from parents and students until Nov. 1 and a vote will be taken at the Nov. 5 board meeting.