Preliminary enrollment for the 2018-19 school year in the Delavan-Darien School District is down but “better than expected,” officials say.

The district won’t submit the year’s exact enrollment to the state until Sept. 21. On Thursday, interim Superintendent Jill Sorbie said preliminary enrollment is about 1,962, a 6.9 percent drop from the district’s 2017-18 year-end enrollment.

A total of 154 students applied to enroll out of the district in the spring, which officials said could amount to more than $900,000 in losses. Based on the preliminary numbers, Sorbie said it is likely that fewer students enrolled out of the district than anticipated, though it’s too early to know the exact numbers.

Last year, the district reported an enrollment of 2,107 students. Officials are predicting the incoming 4K class to have about 59 fewer students than the Class of 2018 that graduated in the spring.

All told, preliminary numbers show the district is down about 80 students this year. Sorbie said that means some students who applied to enroll out of the district decided to stay.

“We appreciate the parents that are sticking it out and realizing we’re working to turn it around,” Sorbie said.

Business Administrator Anthony Klein said the district is hopeful given the preliminary numbers but said the decrease is “still pretty rough” and continues to affect the district’s finances.

And despite the reduction in students, Sorbie said class sizes have increased as anticipated.

About half the classes in first through fourth grades are expected to have between 26 and 28 students, and she said others are hovering in the low 20s. In the middle school and high school, classes will have around 30 students, with some growing to 36.

The district is seeking a four-year, $2.8 million nonrecurring referendum in November. Sorbie said curtailing surging class sizes is the main reason why.

“There’s lots of struggles on our teacher’s parts with the class sizes being larger,” Sorbie said.

Since a previous $3.5 million operational referendum failed in April, the district has faced mounting financial struggles. School board members voted to close Darien Elementary School, lay off 39 teachers and appoint new administrators in the vote’s aftermath.

Sorbie and Klein have attempted to steer the district in a new direction. Both have held more community meetings and retooled the board’s monthly meeting schedule in hopes of fostering community support and reducing the number of open enrollment applications.

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