Lake Bluff population exceeds capacity

Lake Bluff Elementary School’s population has increased tremendously over the past few years.

“Since about 2006 or maybe 2007, there are about 150 kids more than there were … the last couple of years the growth has actually been bigger than 100 kids and it has been growing,” said Suzanna Schroeder, Lake Bluff playground supervisor and parent.

“[From] January 2015 to this school year September 2015 the percentage increase would be about maybe between one and two percent,” said Lake Bluff Elementary School Principal, Eric Norland.

The Lake Bluff population has increased due to the people moving into Shorewood and open enrollment.

(Ben Davis) Lake Bluff stands where it has since its opening in 1915. The school, which once housed grades K-5 through eight, is now facing major over population issues.
(Ben Davis) Lake Bluff stands where it has since its opening in 1915. The school, which once housed grades K-5 through eight, is now facing major over population issues.

“Words are getting out that we are a good district. And … it’s a diverse population that is open for anything. Last year I had them salsa dancing, samba dancing. I had done African dancing and it’s partly because it is so diverse that … people are accepted  to that,” said Liisa Church, Lake Bluff music teacher.

“There are a couple of reasons [the population has grown,] … one, we do have some people moving into the district … then, the district have been opening up the open enrollment seats, and since they are opening up so many open enrollment seats, our population keeps growing and growing and growing at Lake Bluff,” Schroeder said.

The growing Lake Bluff population has created problems, challenges and opportunities.

“There are challenges and opportunities … When you have [more students] you have … a little more opportunity to … hire fantastic teachers, but … the challenge [is] using the space wisely and to maximum efficiency … when you don’t have quite that many students. [It] may not be ideal … because … you got to heat the whole building, you got to take care of the whole building, and if you don’t have enough seats to fill it up, it may not be efficient,” Norland said.

“The problem is that we literally don’t have enough classrooms to accommodate everybody … What’s crazy is that there is not enough space … We have so many kids crammed into small space right now [Lake Bluff is] actually over capacity,” Schroeder said.

The classroom capacity for the Shorewood School District is as high as the capacity of Milwaukee Public School systems.

“[The] Shorewood School District has incredibly high capacity … class enrollment capacity. It’s the same as Milwaukee Public School systems. We are the only schools in the north shore that have class capacity that high,” Schroeder said.

Large class sizes have caused the Lake Bluff PTO to have some concerns about the students.

“[The] Lake Bluff PTO … shared some concerns about class size and being able to accommodate all the kids that we currently have … [They want to] make sure that everybody is taking care of, everybody is educated, and happy and healthy,” Schroeder said.

Parents have also shared their worries about the kids.

“I’m not the only parent who thinks [the class capacity is high,] because we think that kids do not get enough attention that they need when they have so many kids per class and… The teachers did a really good job, but when you have so many kids you have extra problems … two years ago 52% of [one grade] were recommended for summer school because they were … over enrolled,” Schroeder said.

There are some opinions and ideas on how to solve the problems that the school has.

“The school board does have the right to change the policy … If they change these policies to lower the [capacity,] we can have fewer kids per classroom, and we wouldn’t have many students being recommended to summer school,” Schroeder said.

“An interesting thing is that back in April of 2014, Patrick Miller, who is our business manager, said that we were going to be conducting a facility study at Lake Bluff … But to date, we’ve been told that there are no concrete plans to go ahead and do that,” Schroeder said. “[The Facility Study] has been discussed, but I don’t know … if that’s moving forward or not.”

According to Norland, the population could be consistent next year, as it is not confirmed whether it is going to increase or not.

“We can’t make the assumptions that it’s going to increase, but we can’t make assumptions that it’s going to decline … the increase from last January to now was relatively small … But that small increase changed [the] number of classrooms a little bit … We think it will be … pretty consistent,” Norland said.

by Yasmin Mohd Suhailin

One thought

  1. The overpopulation issue at Lake Bluff is more related to the School Board/District’s decision to stop enforcing the “Residency Policy” of Chapter 420 (beginning in 2012) than it is to Open Enrollment. Since 2012, families who do not live in Shorewood, may attend Shorewood Schools, as long as they they have a utility bill and an address. Plenty of wealthy families own investment property, or rent tiny (often vacant) apartments in Shorewood. The have utility bills at these addresses. Since 2012, these kids are attending our schools as “Residents,” and more and more, these kids are crowding our classrooms 😦

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