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Oswego

Oswego School District enrollment has fallen by more than 1,000 students over the past year

Pandemic cited as factors in departures to private schools and home school

Students walk to classes during a passing period at Oswego High School
Students walk to classes during a passing period at Oswego High School

More than 1,000 students withdrew from Oswego School District 308 over the past year, according to updated enrollment information provided by the district.

The information lists the district's enrollment on Sept. 1 at 16,814; 1,030 fewer students than the 17,844 students enrolled in district schools on the seventh day of classes last summer at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

The information also shows the district's enrollment stood at 17,127 students at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year May 21. The district reported an enrollment of 18,005 students on the seventh day of classes for the 2018-2019 school year.

According to the information provided by the district, between May 21, 2020 and Sept. 1, 2020, 325 students transferred to another district in Illinois, 237 students transferred to homeschooling, 199 students transferred out of Illinois, and 167 students transferred to private schools.

Eleven students moved out of the United States, three students transferred to GED learning, two students were labeled as "moved, not known to continue," and one student died.

Director of Communications and Public Relations Theresa Komitas said that the number of students who withdrew from the district and transfered to home school and private school is "much higher, which we would attribute to remote learning and the pandemic."

The district's Board of Education had previously been advised to expect a drop in enrollment. Enrollment projections were presented to the board during its June 8 remote meeting.

During the meeting, Robert Schwarz, CEO of RSP & Associates, an education planning firm based in Kansas, told the board that enrollment changes result from the district's birth rate, demographics, types of incoming development, affordability and "location neutral trends."

Schwarz projected a decrease of 400 students throughout the district over the next five years. At the elementary level, he projected an increase of 100 students over five years, a decrease of 400 students at the junior high level, and a decrease of about 50 students at the district's two high schools.

Schwarz did acknowledge the pandemic during his presentation, as shutdowns, furloughs, and layoffs have the potential to affect enrollment, as well as how schools chose to start the current school year.

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