The number of bilingual students in Schaumburg Township Elementary School District 54 is at an all-time high this year, while the district’s total enrollment dropped to its lowest level in 10 years.

District 54’s enrollment figures, released last week, show total enrollment fell by 233 students this year to 15,520.

The number of bilingual students, however, shot up by almost 10 percent, to a record-high 903. That is roughly 6 percent of the total student body.

Associate Superintendent Ken Cull said the trends in District 54’s enrollment mirror the changing demographics in the Northwest suburbs.

Statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week showed the number of Hispanics in Cook County grew by 205,000 between 1990 and 1998, a 30 percent increase, and the number of Asians in Cook County jumped by 62,000, a 32 percent increase.

In response to the district’s growing bilingual population, District 54 opened a new bilingual center at Einstein School in Hanover Park this year, and moved another center from Fairview School in Hoffman Estates to Nerge School in Roselle, where the demand for the center was greater.

District 54 administrators anticipated the high bilingual enrollment and the low total enrollment. What caught them off guard were the kindergarten enrollment figures.

District 54 predicted kindergarten enrollment to drop this year for the third consecutive year, but kindergarten enrollment was actually up by 85 students, to 1,551.

Cull said no staffing changes were needed since the enrollment was spread out across the 27 schools. The district based its kindergarten enrollment projections on the state’s live birth rate, which in the past has been a good indicator.

“I don’t know if there is an anomaly of one year,” Cull said. “Kindergarten is hard to predict.”

District 54 is now graduating 1,700 students a year and taking in only 1,500, but the kindergarten numbers suggest there is no serious enrollment hemorrhage.

“We’re not going into a steep decline on enrollment. In fact, it could be an entire turnaround,” Cull said.

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