Taft HS enrollment could peak at 4,400 in 2 years; number of students at Taft from each feeder school listed
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School’s freshman class of 1,100 students includes at least 40 graduates from each of the following elementary schools: Bridge, Smyser, Garvy, Prussing, Dever, Dirksen, Beaubien, Canty, Hitch Ebinger and Oriole Park.
In all, about 85 percent of Taft’s total enrollment of 3,960 students come from its attendance area or preference zone, which was created for graduates of Dever, Canty and Bridge when Taft’s freshman campus opened in 2019 at 4071 N. Oak Park Ave. Taft’s enrollment is projected to peak at about 4,400 in two years.
The 85-percent figure is more than four times higher that Taft’s local enrollment in the early 1990s, when about 80 percent of the school’ students lived outside of its attendance area. Many of those students came from the Austin neighborhood.
“We are definitely a neighborhood school,” Taft principal Mark Grishaber said. “Real estate marketers are putting pictures of Taft … in their listings.” He added that he’s heard about investors who “flip” houses seeking properties in Taft’ attendance area because it is a strong selling point and raises the value.
School system officials have said that Taft could have the highest saturation of all neighborhood high schools in the city, meaning that it attracts the largest percentage of students from the total number of high school-age children living within its attendance area. In Chicago, students can apply to a variety of schools outside their neighborhood, plus others choose a private school.
At Taft, students from outside its attendance or preference boundaries can apply to enroll it in its International Baccalaureate Diploma or U.S. Naval Junior ROTC programs. In addition, some of the enrollees inTaft’s Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center, which is a gifted program, come from outside the attendance area, and they can choose to remain at Taft for high school.
The following is the eighth-grade graduation breakdown for Taft’s current freshman class: 91 Bridge, 70 Smyser, 64 Garvy, 57 Prussing, 57 Dever, 56 Dirksen, 53 Beaubien, 48 Canty, 48 Hitch, 41 Ebinger, 40 Oriole Park, 35 Taft Academic Center, 34 Edison Park, 31 Onahan, 30 Farnsworth, 24 Thorp, 19 Edgebrook, 18 Disney II, 18 Palmer, 14 Sauganash, 13 Portage Park, 12 Norwood Park and 12 Wildwood.
There also are 208 others, including 78 who graduated from outside the Chicago Public Schools.