Video: RLAS D116 Community Forum Meeting 9-24-13

Round Lake Area School District 116 held a special Community Forum meeting on September 24, 2013 to explain the overcrowding situation at the high school. There was a Power Point presentation followed by a question and answer period. The meeting was expected to last an hour and a half but they were able to complete it all in less than 45 minutes. The presentation presenter was familiar with the topic and moved right along, although what the audience was expected to be able to see on the screen was, at times, impossible to read due to the size of the graphics as well as not utilizing the entire projector screen. You should be able to make out most of the presentation in the video below and hear what the lady had to say. The pdf file is available on the schools website HERE

Proposed open lounge area
Proposed open lounge area

The presentation consisted of a lot of visuals with extremely small graphs showing numbers that nobody, even sitting close to the projector screen, could possibly read. I attribute that to the main reason the sparse crowd in attendance had few questions following the presentation. One former alumni asked if the presentation was available on the school’s website. So, let’s take a closer look at what was presented and try to understand why the school board may be looking to add several 2-story additions to the current building. One photo that they showed was a lounge area similar to what you might find at a local college for students to sit around before or between classes. Nice, but is it necessary?

Another graph that nobody would have been able to see was part of a larger visual that compared the square foot per student at the Round Lake schools versus the standard square foot. In this case the Round Lake schools are operating in very tight quarters, with the high school at 50% of the norm as the chart below indicates.

Square foot per student comparison chart
Square foot per student comparison chart

Another small graph that needed to be expanded, and thus may have created some audience questions, was one that showed current and projected enrollment through 2014. This particular one should tweak your interest because the current overcrowding at the High School would appear to work itself out as fewer students are moving up from the lower classes. A part of the presentation also showed that the District was “land-locked” meaning that we won’t be seeing any big sub-divisions being built that would put a greater strain on enrollment capacity.  The following graph shows that the high school is currently operating over capacity by 511 students. But let’s take a look at what’s in the funnel in future years coming from the lower grades. We all know that there is a drop-out rate in the Round Lake school system when it comes to graduating.  Since I don’t have specific numbers of each size class, let’s just use 20% as the number of high school seniors rather than 25% (1/4 of the high school 9th thru 12th grade enrollment).  That would indicate that 409 are currently seniors. Now, taking a look at the junior high enrollment, if we split the total in half for grades 7th and 8th, we would get 835 students in each grade level, thus 835 would be entering high school next year which would be double the number of students leaving the high school grounds. Granted, that will put an even greater strain on capacity.

Let’s do some additional number crunching

However, let’s see what is in the pipeline after the two year crunch coming from the junior high over the next two years. There are a total of 3392 students in the pre-school through 6th grade. Let’s take out the early education center number of 485 since it represents only one grade level. That leaves us with 2907 students working their way through the system. If you divide that number by the number of grade levels in elementary school (K-6) you would get 415 students per grade level. That would indicate that AFTER the two-year crunch, coming from the junior high school feeding into the senior high school, there would actually be under-utilized capacity over the next several years. Keep in mind that we are “land-locked” so no major building boom can happen that would over-burden the school system down the road. Maybe instead of discussing a building expansion the school board should be working on a double shift plan for the next two years and let capacity issues work themselves out naturally.

Will we even need two Junior High schools in the future?

Another thought might be to utilize one of the junior high schools since the elementary grades funneling in over the next several years do not appear to support the need for two junior high schools (415 per year coming from the elementary grades while 835 junior high students move on to the high school over the next two years). Taking into consideration families moving to our area with junior and high school age children, will it be enough to utilize the capacity of both the junior (1873 students) and senior (1538 students) high school?  Thus, a good question for parents to ask at upcoming meetings is are we planning on building an expensive addition(s) to the high school to accommodate students for just the next two years? All families have growing pains and the kids may be forced to share a bedroom when funds aren’t available to move to a larger home. Eventually, Mom and Dad wind up with a bigger house than they need and decide to downsize rather than pay the higher taxes and maintenance. Could this be the case at the high school…..a temporary overcrowding situation that will work itself out over the coming years?  There are more meetings planned and I encourage parents to get involved and attend as well as come prepared with your questions. The presentations are posted on the school’s website under Meeting Agendas for you to view ahead of time.

RLAS-D116 current and projected enrollment
RLAS-D116 current and projected enrollment

As always the lighting in the auditorium is never favorable for shooting videos especially when they have them turned down so people can see the projector screen. The school has installed a wide projector screen on the stage for school functions but since it was white and behind the school board members, it only added to to the white-balance issues of the video camera settings.

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2 Comments

  • Shawn Peil

    Just came across this article. The interpretation of the data is off considerably.

    The elementary schools are 1-5, not 1-6. The middle schools are 6-8, not 7-8. 5 grades in the elementary schools and 3 in the middle schools.

    The elementary schools average 581 students per grade with early education removed, middle schools average 556 students per grade and high school averages 512 students per grade.

    Based on those averages, the middle school population will grow by 4.5% and the high school population will grow by 13.5%.

  • Shawn Peil

    Correction:

    One elementary school is K-5, the other 4 are 1-5. The early education center is K only (471 Kindergarten students according to their 2010-2011 school report card). 3,392 K-5 students average out to 565.

    Middle school and high school averages remain 556 and 512 respectively.

    Middle school growth can be projected to be 1.6% while high school growth can be projected to be 10.4%.

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