Enrollment at Taft High School to be at its highest in 45 years
by BRIAN NADIG
The splitting of Taft High School into freshman and varsity campuses could not come soon enough as its enrollment this fall will be at its highest in 45 years.
Taft’s projected enrollment when classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 3, is 3,600, principal Mark Grishaber said after the July 9 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council. Last school year’s enrollment was about 3,442.
Approximately one third of the students will attend classes at the new Taft Freshman Academy, 4071 N. Oak Park Ave., which also will house the Taft Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center. The academy is in its final stages of being built.
The freshman campus will include about 175 freshmen from the newly created preference zone, which allows Dever, Canty and Bridge school graduates to attend Taft based on space availability.
The freshman campus was designed for an ideal enrollment of 1,200, but school system officials have said that with some creative scheduling it can accommodate more students.
Taft’s highest enrollment was close to 3,800 in the early or mid-1970s, said Taft Alumni Association president and historian Anne Lunde. For 9 years beginning in 1965, Taft’s freshmen were housed at Norwood Park School due to overcrowding at Taft’s main building at 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., which was expanded in the early 1970s.
Meanwhile, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Taft as the 143rd best high school in Illinois and 4,269 nationally, earning Taft the magazine’s "Best High Schools" rankings. The magazine reviewed more than 23,000 public high schools in the country, and 647 schools in Illinois made the "best" rankings.
The magazine recognizes the top 40 percent of the schools ranked nationally, and in the past Taft’s academic numbers were not high enough to make the list, Girshaber said.
"This is huge for us," Grishaber said. "We weren’t even good enough to be rated before because our numbers weren’t there."
According to U.S. World’s assessment, Taft’s graduation rate was 94 percent, higher than the state median, and its college readiness rank was 3,026 of the 17,245 schools ranked in that category. The college readiness score is based in the number of students taking and passing Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
The report listed Taft’s minority enrollment at 53 percent and its economically disadvantage number at 57 percent.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the annual student fee will remain unchanged from last year at $450. Gym uniforms, yearbooks and Advanced Placement test, senior commencement and academic center fees are extra.
The LSC plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month beginning Sept. 10.