Taft enrollment increases
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School is estimated to have 117 more students this fall than its current total of about 3,700, but that projection could go higher as families deal with the economy’s downturn.
The possibility of school buildings being closed in the fall due to the pandemic could lead to some private school parents rethinking their child’s plans, according to Taft principal Mark Grishaber.
"Why are you going to pay … $10,000 to go online for learning, when you could go to Taft for free," Grishaber said at the May 14 special meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council.
At the meeting the council approved the school’s $23 million budget for next year, which is about $1 million higher than its 2019-20 budget. Taft has about 300 staff members, and most of the budget goes toward salaries.
"I feel comfortable with the new budget. … We are healthy (and) we are not losing any teachers," Grishaber said. "They gave us a little more (due to the) 117 more students."
The school is in the process of hiring new staff members for the fall, and the "resumes are rock stars" because Taft can offer them job security given its increasing enrollment, Grishaber said. "We are the number one growth school in CPS and maybe in Illinois," he said.
The council also approved the school’s Continuous Improvement Work Plan, which outlines a 2-year path to improved student achievement. It calls for civic engagement opportunities in all courses so that students will be better positioned to bring about change in the "wider community and beyond."
Assistant principal Jenny Greenblatt said that the council would receive regular updates on the plan’s progress.
Also at the meeting, a teacher inquired about the possibility of providing each Taft student with a Chromebook. When e-learning began in March, Taft loaned Chromebooks to students who did not have a computer at home.
Grishaber said that it would cost about $500,000 to purchase Chromebooks for all students and that student privacy and a multitude of other issues would need to be addressed. He said that Taft might want to wait and see how it works out for another school in the city that plans to give a tablet to each student this fall.