Biggest-ever kindergarten enrollment projected in Champaign

Biggest-ever kindergarten enrollment projected in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school district mailed its kindergarten assignments Tuesday and is expecting record enrollment of kindergartners next fall.

More than 89 percent of kindergarten students received their first choice assignment, according to a press release from the school district, which is the highest percentage in the last four years.

The school district expects more than 800 kindergarten students — who will make up the high school class of 2025 — to enroll next year and has added three kindergarten classes to accommodate the students.

By Sept. 1, 2011, 803 kindergarten students were enrolled, said school district spokeswoman Lynn Peisker. If more than that enroll this fall, it will be considered record enrollment.

The new, so-called "bubble" kindergarten classes will be at South Side Elementary and Bottenfield Elementary, as well as a bilingual classroom at Robeson Elementary. The latter will be the start of a bilingual program there.

A bubble class means there will be an extra classroom at the grade level containing next year's kindergartners until those students reach middle school.

For example, South Side has two classrooms for every grade, but will have three kindergarten classrooms next year.

The school district will move a portable classroom unit to South Side in June but hasn't decided yet which classes will use it. The portable will come from Westview Elementary, which will be remodeled next year.

The extra classes will use existing spaces at Bottenfield and Robeson.

The reason for the extra bubble classes is to avoid topping the school district's classroom capacity, which is 23 students for the 2012-13 school year.

The three most popular kindergarten choices were at Bottenfield, Carrie Busey and Barkstall elementaries, in that order, Peisker said.

More than 95 percent of students have been assigned a kindergarten, but 35 students remain unassigned. That means the student has a seat in the school district but not at one of the parents' top five school selections, Peisker said.

"No matter how few families are unassigned at the conclusion of the assignment process, we take their circumstances very seriously," Peisker said. "Yesterday, we made the phone calls to every family who is unassigned at this point in the process."

Parents of unassigned students may choose to join a wait list for their selected school.

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cumom wrote on April 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

New kindgarden classrooms will be added to the already overcrowded schools of Bottenfield and South Side?  Why were classrooms not added at schools that perpetually have plenty of open seats?  Possibly so the district could proudly announce that 89.1% of parents recieved the school they wanted.  What about the teachers that are going to have to deal with increased overcrowding in their schools? 

anony95 wrote on April 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

Were there just more kids this year, or is there a decline in enrollment at private schools? Are more parents choosing public over private? Was this expected? Also, I'm wondering why the new STEM program at the brand new BTW isn't at the top of the choice list.  Are they full? Still underchosen?  How is that going?  Why aren't people choosing it, and if it is still underchosen, will that have an impact on how they handle future "magnet" decisions?  Lots of education news in this town that would be good to know.

cumom wrote on April 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

The district has the information about what schools were underchosen and how many open seat are left at other schools.  They must be waiting to release that information, which is a good PR move on their part.  It will soon be apparent when they release the rest of the data that even with the increased enrollment, plenty of seats still remain at "underchosen" schools.  Adding extra seats at highly chosen schools is a bureaucratic decision to apppease parents. 

cumom wrote on April 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Sorry, I didn't realize this was a real life word problem from the school district, very tricky teachers.  They already provided us with all the information to figure out some of the questions we have been pondering about the enrollment numbers.

If the 35 students that were unassigned represent 4.6% of the total students who applied for the lottery then the total number of students who entered to lottery was ~761.  Enrollment for last year was 803.  They have created three new classrooms of 23 students.  Now the total available enrollment for kindergarden is 872.  Do they really expect 69 more kindergardeners to move to Champaign this summer and fill up all the new spots they have created? 

Champaign Guest wrote on April 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

768 students, according to the press release on the Unit 4 website:

cumom wrote on April 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

-10 points

My apolgies for the error.  I'll stay after class and clean the board.

sacrophyte wrote on April 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

@anony: More children were registered in March 2012 than in March 2011. However, in August 2011 Unit 4 was swamped with a sudden influx of new students creating a situation in which every single Kindergarten class was (over) capacity. In terms of STEM and the Magnet programs, that registration was done earlier and in fact, one of the Magnet schools actually ran out of seats and there was a (short) waitlist. It is exceptionally hard to see that information in the brief window we have from the Unit 4 press release.


@cumom: As you indicated, Unit 4 will soon release the complete spreadsheet of lottery data. I have FOIA'd the data, and I am sure others have as well. I am not sure what the hold-up is - in the past, I was told it took a little while to strip out the "personally identifiable information" (PII), but that should only take about 15 minutes, IMO. It will be further interesting to see how many people chose the new Carrie Busey despite its AYP performance, which typically has a high correlation to choice of school.


I too wish we had access to the suite of metainformation and thought process behind each parent's choice (whether private, public, 5 schools, 1 school, etc). We could really data mine that information and come up with some revealing information that might even help up shape the offerings a bit better. But we do not have that information. So what do we do? What is the best solution based on the information we do have?

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 02, 2012 at 12:05 pm
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Let's have a report on the economic make-up of the new enrollees.


I've heard some school's populations are now 90% "on assistance." Does this mean wealthier families are schooling at Countryside, and parochial schools? Or are they just not having children?