Highland News Leader

Highland schools see an increase in enrollment at the start of the year

A line of kindergarteners walk behind their new teacher Mrs. Brenda Grigg on their way to the start of their first day of school at Alhambra Primary School.
A line of kindergarteners walk behind their new teacher Mrs. Brenda Grigg on their way to the start of their first day of school at Alhambra Primary School. mbraa@bnd.com

Highland School District enrollment has seen a slight increase in enrollment for the first time in several years.

For the last two years, the district’s beginning year enrollment remained almost stagnant, decreasing by less than one percent each year. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, enrollment decreased about four percent.

During the Highland School Board meeting on Aug. 27, Superintendent Mike Sutton announced the district enrollment polled at 2,881 students, including preschool students, at the start of the year, which overall is about 14 more students more than last year. However, the number is less than a one percent increase.

“Which is not much, but it is better than the small decreases we have seen over the last several years,” Sutton said.

Enrollment plays a part in how much funding the district receives from the state. While 14 students may not seem like much, Sutton said under the states old funding formula, the increase would have equated to about an extra $100,000 for the district.

“So it is significant,” Sutton said.

In addition, this year the district saw an increase in the number of it’s reimbursable students. The district only receives funds for students grades K-12. Overall last year, the district’s number of reimbursable students fell by nine students. Whereas this year, the district gained 13 reimbursable students.

Sutton said it is difficult to understand what percentage enrollment plays in the new funding formula. But, the district’s Business Manager Tim Bair said the district expects to see about $7.3 million from evidence based funding, which is about a $110,00 increase from over last year.

However, Sutton said that enrollment can ebb and flow throughout the year, and enrollment numbers are polled for the new evidence-based funding formula on October 1 and March 1.

“The important thing is maintaining consistency,” Sutton said.

While there is always a chance of the district’s enrollment decreasing as the year goes on, Sutton said efforts by the city to encourage new single-family home development, and new housing projects could bode well for the future.

“I think there is a great potential for some growth for the student body,” Sutton said.

Enrollment by school

  • Alhambra Primary School has 166 students (pre-K to third grade) this year, which is 15 more than were enrolled last year.
  • Grantfork Elementary School has 53 students (grades 4-5) this year. There were 58 students enrolled at Grantfork Elementary last year. There were 69 students enrolled in 2016-2017.
  • Highland Primary School has 574 students (early childhood-grade 2). For the last two years the school has had 557 students.

  • Highland Elementary School has 489 students (grades 3-5) , which is 29 students less than last year. There were 519 enrolled students from 2016-2017.

  • Highland Middle School has 677 students (grades 6-8) this year. There were 638 students enrolled at Highland Middle School last year. There were 660 students enrolled in 2016-2017.
  • Highland High School has 904 students (grades 9-12) this year. There were 928 students enrolled at Highland High School last year. There were 910 students enrolled in 2016-2017.

New business

Kansas City trip

The board was advised about an annual trip for the HHS Madrigal Singers, Chamber Choir and Madrigal actors.

Each year the groups travel to Kansas City for the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. The groups will be in Kansas City from Oct. 5 to 7, where they will stay at Great Wold Lodge.

This trip does not require board approval.


The board approved one retirement. Gary Fruitiger, a custodian at Highland Primary School will retire on Jan. 31, 2019.

New personnel

The board approved two resignations:

  • Staci Twardowski, a special education teacher at Highland Primary School;
  • Casey Driemeyer, a football cheerleading coach at Highland High School, effective at the end of the 2018 season;

New staff

The board approved 18 new staff members:

  • Emily Weiss, special education at Highland Primary School;
  • Lana Ponce will teach special education at Highland Middle School;
  • Heather Luitjohan, part-time physical education at Alhambra Primary School;
  • Amy Michaels, program assistant at Highland High School;
  • Shana Knebel, program assistant at Highland Primary School;
  • Michael Skinner, Lindethanl supervisor for Highland Primary School and Highland Elementary School;
  • Kayla Pike, program assistant at Highland Middle School;
  • Antoinette Grooms, reading aide at Alhambra Primary School and Highland Primary School;
  • Brooke Walch, program assistant at Highland Elementary School, effective Aug. 27;
  • Karen Twyford, Saturday Scholar Sponsor, at Highland High School;
  • Margie Duncan, Saturday Scholar Sponosr and Production Manager Ticket Sales at Highland High School;
  • Jacob Stieb, assistant boys’ soccer coach at Highland High School;
  • Sarah Bland, Class of 2022 sponsor at Highland High School;
  • Kelsey Huson, Class of 2022 sponsor at Highland High School;
  • Sean Hobson, feshman boys’ basketball coach at Highland High School;
  • Paula Scarbrough, fall play director at Highland High School;
  • Molly Hayes, scholar bowl coach at Highland High School;
  • Kaitlin Richardson, scholar bowl coach at Highland High School.

Change of assignment

The board approved one change of assignment. Brian Lammers will move from assistant boys’ soccer coach to volunteer boys’ soccer coach at Highland High School.

Activity fund created

The board created a student activity fund for the Class of 2021.

This will be the new account for the incoming freshman at Highland High School.

Cabaret fund revoked

The board revoked the authorization of a student activity fund for the Cabaret show at Highland High School.

Sutton said that Andrew Gibb-Clark, one of the school’s music teachers, approached me about consolidating some of the school’s Fine Arts accounts. This was one of the accounts he wanted consolidated.

Designated depository approved

The board passes a resolution to add Southern States Bank and MetaBank to its designated approved depositories.

The district can only deposit funds at the banks and establishments designated by on this list.

Hazardous bus routes

The board approved a resolution relaying the hazardous bus routes.

The board is required by Illinois School Code to annually review the findings and determine whether or not hazardous conditions remain unchanged. The hazardous designation allows the district to receive reimbursement of transportation costs for routes provided within 1 1/2 miles of the district’s campuses.

Therapy contract approved

The board approved a contract with Integra Therapy Services.

The establishment provides occupational and physical therapy for the district.

There was a 5 percent increase in the cost of services.

Speech therapy contract

The board approved another contract with Integra Therapy Services for speech therapy at St. Paul Catholic School.

The district is required to provide services to students in private school settings. Sutton said this contract allow the district to do this while allowing their speech professionals to remain in the district.

The speech therapist will provide three hours per week of services at $68.25 per hour.