DHS sees growing student numbers

By Nina Gougis

Addressing a growing student population in DeKalb High School was a major concern for District 428 school board members Tuesday.

The district experienced a greater increase in high school students than projected with less growth in middle school and elementary students since 1996, said Russ Farnum, acting community development director.

The growth is, in part, a result of families with older children moving into newly-developed, more expensive homes, Farnum said.

In addition, the graduating senior class of approximately 357 will soon be replaced by more than 411 eighth-grade students next year, said John Rodriguez, assistant principal at DeKalb High School, 1515 S. Fourth St.

To deal with overcrowding, board members may consider shifting from a 10-period overlapping class schedule to a more traditional eight-period class schedule while extending the lunch period from 30 to 48 minutes.

“It could make scheduling better for students and slightly increase capacity,” board president Tom Teresinski said.

The shift would be a temporary solution to the overcrowding problem, he said. There will eventually be a need for an expansion of the high school or a new school.

If the growth continues, board members may need to consider switching to a split schedule, Rodriguez said.

“We’re not there yet, but three to five years down the road, it’s going to get to that point,” he said.

In addition, Farnum presented the comprehensive plan update and the effects it would have on schools. The plan includes four designated sites for elementary schools and three sites for middle schools.

The vote on the plan was delayed by city council Monday after members expressed disagreement.

The board will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Mar. 14 at the District 428 Education Center, 901 S. Fourth St.