BLOOMINGTON — Overall enrollment in Bloomington District 87 schools is projected to drop slightly in fall 2018, continuing a slow downward trend since fall 2012.

At the end of September, there were 5,337 students enrolled in District 87 schools, according to a report presented to the school board at its meeting Wednesday night. That was up a bit from the previous September, when it was 5,292, but down from the high of 5,624 in 2012.

By next fall, enrollment is projected to be 5,280, board members were told.

Superintendent Barry Reilly said there are several factors for the decline, but a major one is “changes that are happening to the largest employer in town” — State Farm. He said the shutdown of the Mitsubishi Motors North America auto assembly plant in Normal also had an impact.

The overall decline of about 300 students since 2012 is the equivalent of a small school, such as Sarah E. Raymond School of Early Education, which houses preschool programs, noted Reilly. But because the loss is spread throughout the district, it doesn't have a big impact on staffing levels, he said.

Because the portion of Bloomington that is within the boundaries of District 87 has no room for major residential development, the district doesn't see major upward swings in student population. That relative stability makes it easier to plan, noted Reilly.

Although the district is expecting an enrollment decline in 2018, Bloomington High School is projected to jump from 1,395 this September to 1,479 next September.

That's because Bloomington Junior High School had a few years of higher enrollment and those students are moving onto the high school, explained Cindy Helmers, assistant superintendent for curriculum.

The junior high's enrollment of 1,252 this September is projected to drop to 1,203 next fall.

The racial makeup of the district also is slowly changing.

The percentage of white students is 49 percent, having declined from 58 percent in 2008. The percentage of black students has remained relatively unchanged at 23 percent over the 10-year period.

The percentage of Hispanic students, however, has increased from 9 percent in 2008 to the current 14 percent.

The multiracial category also has increased, from 7 percent to 10 percent. The percentage of Asian students has remained stable at 4 percent.

“We really celebrate the fact that our district is diverse,” said Herschel Hannah, assistant superintendent of human resources. “We serve our students very well.”

An analysis of transfers in and out of the district show most come from or go to McLean County Unit 5 — more than one-third. Although based in Normal, Unit 5 includes many of the newer parts of Bloomington.

The next highest percentage of transfers is students coming from or going out of state — 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively. About 2 percent to 3 percent are transfers from or to other countries.

“As we become a more global society … we become a more mobile society,” said Helmers.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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