Chicago Magazine Ranks Best McHenry County Schools

Chicago Magazine ranked suburban schools.

Here are the results for McHenry County grade schools:

These are the top ten grade schools in McHenry County, according to Chicago Magazine.

These are the top ten grade schools in McHenry County, according to Chicago Magazine.

Here are the results of McHenry County high schools:

Four of the five best McHenry County High Schools are in District 155, according to Chicago Magazine.

Four of the five best McHenry County High Schools are in District 155, according to Chicago Magazine.

The ranking methodology can be found here.


Chicago Magazine Ranks Best McHenry County Schools — 18 Comments

  1. Here is the full source document.

    Chicago Magazine

    2016 Best Public Schools

    Chicago’s Best Public Schools

    By David McAninch and Claire Zulkey, with Dana Driskill, John Hardberger, and Taylor Scheibe

    July 22, 2016


    From the ranking methodology link:

    Chicago Magazine

    How We Ranked the Schools

    July 22, 2016

    “Spending Per Pupil: Spending per pupil is the per-student instructional expenditure, reported by the district.

    (Because all CPS schools reported the same amount spent per student – $9,778 – we excluded that figure from CPS calculations.”

    We can check the per student instructional expenditure figures provided by the school district, against Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) figures, since there are several ways to measure spending.


    First let’s consolidate the schools to their districts, since reported spending for all schools in a district is identical.

    Cary CCSD 26:
    – Briargate Elementary School

    CHSD 155:
    – Cary Grove High School
    – Crystal Lake Central High School
    – Crystal Lake South High School
    – Prairie Ridge High School

    Crystal Lake CCSD 47:
    – Indian Prairie Elementary School
    – South Elementary School
    – West Elementary School
    – Woods Creek Elementary School

    Marengo Union E Cons D 165:
    – Locust Elementary School
    – Ulysses S Grant Intermediate School

    McHenry CCSD 15:
    – Edgebrook Elementary School

    Riley CCSD 18, Marengo:
    – Riley Community Consolidated Elementary School

    Woodstock CUSD 200:
    – Mary Endres Elementary School
    – Woodstock High School


    There are actually more schools in each district than reported above.

    For this comparison, just using the schools in the article.



    CCSD = Community Consolidated School District, an elementary & middle school district.

    CHSD = Community High School District.

    CUSD = Community Unit School District, an elementary, middle, and high school district.


    Instructional Expenditure per pupil (Instruct Expend per pupil) is from the Chicago Magazine article above.

    The other three figures, operating expense per pupil (OEPP), Per Capital Tuition Charge (PCTC), and Total Expenditures per Average Daily Attendance (Ttl Expend per ADA) are from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

    The ISBE source document and detail follow the reported figures.


    District – Instruct Expend per pupil – OEPP – PCTC – Ttl Expend per ADA

    Cary CCSD 26 – $5,408 – $10,393 – $8,893 – $12,315

    CHSD 155 – $8,966 – $15,529 – $13,968 – $16,573

    Crystal Lake CCSD 47 – $6,186 – $10,570 – $9,301 – $12,285

    Marengo Union E Cons D 165 – $4,708 – $9,321 – $7,787 – $10,653

    McHenry CCSD 15 – $7,138 – $12,668 – $11,034 – $14,179

    Riley CCSD 18 – $6,829 – $10,266 – $8,896 – $11,588

    Woodstock CUSD 200 – $6,593 – $12,400 – $11,339 – $14,067


    The above data can be found here: > Division & Program Areas > School Business Services > School Financial Services > Historical Archive — Financial Reports > OEPP-PCTC-ADA (2009-2015)


    The above data is described here:

    Illinois State Board of Education

    School Business Services

    Fiscal Year 2015

    Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP), Per Capita Tuition Charge (PCTC), and 9 Month Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

    From the 2015 Annual Financial Reports (AFR), page 28 & 29.

    If you have any questions please contact Debbie Hemberger in School Business Services at (217) 785-8779 or email your questions to


    Operating Expense per Pupil

    The gross operating cost of a school district (excepting summer school, adult education, bond principal retired, and capital expenditures) divided by the nine-month ADA for the regular school term.


    Per Capita Tuition Charge:

    The amount a local school district charges as tuition to nonresident students as defined by Sections 18-03 and 10-20.12a of the School Code.

    The per capita tuition charge is determined by totaling all expenses of a school district in its Educational, Operations and Maintenance, Debt Service, Transportation, Municipal Retirement / Social Security, and Tort Funds for the preceding school year less expenditures not applicable to the regular K-12 program (such as adult education and summer school), less offsetting revenues from state sources, except those from the Common School Fund, less offsetting revenues from federal sources except those from federal Impaction Aid, less revenues from student and community services, plus a depreciation allowance and dividing this amount by the nine-month ADA for the year.


    Average Daily Attendance (ADA):

    The aggregate number of pupil days in attendance divided by the number of days in the regular school session.

    A pupil who attends school for five or more clock hours while school is in session constitutes one pupil day of attendance.

    The best three months average daily attendance of the prior year is used in calculating General State Aid for the current year.

    The 9 MO ADA figures are sometimes adjusted due to audits of school records.

    Therefore, the ADA and the per pupil fields that are dependent on the ADA may change because of these adjustments.

    This can be found in the General State Aid Inquiry, 2016 Claimable Average Daily Attendance and Calendar Data, line 12.

    Link to GSA Inquiry:


    This is all very tedious but if one is concerned about holding the line or lowering school district property taxes then it helps to understand the various ways in which spending is measured in schools.

  2. Nice to see Woodstock getting the most bang for its buck and challenging students.

  3. I guess ‘moderate’ did not read how the ratings were calculated.

    The report ranks right up there with political polling (biased b.s.).

    I am sure Susan will have more to say.

  4. Why is it that we rank government schools?

    if you are using a government school, there is no choice amongst the government schools, unless you move.

    Moreover, how well do these government schools compare to private schools?

    How well does the government spend tax dollars as compared to the private counterparts?

    It is well established that the Catholic schools have a pool of graduates that perform better on the ACT/SAT then the government schools at a fraction of the cost.

    Perhaps the answer to how they compare is so clear we need not compare them to show how our tax dollars are wasted.

  5. I also observe these figures can reflect a “low income adjustment”.


    Your income does not impact your mind!

    Think people!

  6. Wipe your rear with this article and mail to Chicago Mag, along with a clean copy of your currently due second installment Property Tax Bill.

  7. Hey Cal can you or one of your dedicated readers find out which school districts/schools give out the most to students for say free lunch/food, students that don’t have to pay for sports, or any other type of thing.

    Meaning which schools are giving away the most services to the poor and what they are?

    Just curious to what more tax payers have to pick up for more programs.

  8. Observer to assume that going to a Catholic school is the only indicator of success is ridiculous- the greatest indicator of academic success is the education level of parents and the level of parental involvement- which is higher in a school that cost $5-7K a year surely than the average.

    So it isn’t that the education is better, but the entire environment of the child’s life.

  9. Edgebrook is ranked at number 1, but it’s spending per student is the highest on the list, and it’s Parc attainment is almost the lowest.

  10. The federal regime has been filling up McHenry County with section 8 South and West Siders from Chicago.

    The demographic transformatation after 8 years of Obamaization is rather startling as anyone who’s been out to the box stores can see with their own eyes.

    Just look at the crime rate rise. There’s a concomitant drop in local schools’ intellectual performance as measured by standardized testing. Gee, I wonder why.

  11. your right D J

    the amount we get taxed they should be up there in ranking!!

  12. Let’s add the state contribution to the TRS pension fund to the above figures.


    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) 2015 spreadsheet report named “OEPP-PCTC-ADA” states the average daily attendance for the school districts listed is 1,843,665.

    So about 1,843,665 students were educated in those regular school districts in fiscal year 2015.


    The Teachers Retirement Service of Illinois (TRS) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015 (FY 2015 aka FY15) lists the State of Illinois contributions as $3,377,664,945.


    FY 2015 State Contribution to TRS / Average Daily Attendance 2015 = State Contribution to TRS per student for FY 2015, where student is measured as average daily attendance in the regular school districts.

    $3,377,664,945 / 1,843,665 = $1,832.


    The 1,843,665 probably does not include most or all pupils in the following districts (depends if the regular school districts include students from any of the following districts in their ADA figures, which in turn relates to the flow of funding from one district to another):

    – special education districts (there are many)

    – Regional Office of Education (ROE) district alternative learning programs (ALOP)

    – Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) School District 438

    – Illinois Department of Human Services
    – Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education (ICRE)
    – Illinois School for the Visually Impaired
    – Illinois School for the Blind

    – state laboratory school districts
    – Illinois State University Laboratory Schools (Thomas Metcalf Elementary, University High School)
    – University of Illinois Laboratory High School

    – Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), Aurora


    Let’s add another 10,000 students for the above districts as a conservative ballpark estimate to see how that effects the result.

    $3,377,664,945 / 1,843,665 = $1,832.

    $3,377,664,945 / 1,853,665 = $1,822.

    When dealing with $3.3 Billion dollars, 10,000 students does not make a huge difference.


    Thus, $1,822 can be added to each of the above school figures to account for the annual state contribution to the teacher and administrator pension fund.

  13. It would be relevant, but perhaps not PC, to include the percentage of ESL students in the school rankings.

    It would be better still if they broke down the results for each school between students whose first language is English and those whose first language is something else.

    It would give us a much better apples to apples comparison on how the schools are really doing.

  14. ESL = English as a Second Language.

    Just call or email the Illinois State Board of Education with questions about public education statistics.


    The Illinois Report Card lists lots of education statistics also.

    Students statewide:

    – low income 54%

    – White 49.3%
    – Black 17.5%
    – Hispanic 25.1%
    – Asian 4.6%
    – American Indian 0.3%
    – Two or More Races 3.1%
    – Pacific Islander 0.1%

    – 2,054,556 total enrollment in 2015

    – 94% attendance statewide in 2015

    – 2,054,556 x .94 = 1,931,283

    – 12% Student Mobility in 2015 (transferred schools between 1st and last day of school that year)

    – 8.7% chronically truant in 2015 (missed 5% or more of school days without excused absence.

    – 10.3% English Learners in 2015 (% of students who are eligible for bi-lingual education).

    – 2% homeless (don’t have permanent or adequate homes).

    – 14.1% with disabilities (receive special education services through and IEP – individual education plan).

  15. Well of course they would everything is FREE! paid by the highest taxed people the STATE FREE cheese for everyone!

  16. Low income students are classified as eligible to receive free or reduced priced lunches, live in substitute care, or whose families receive public aid.

  17. I hope someone who follows the Woodstock schools more closely will parse their numbers with respect to per student spending.

    Their spending numbers seem kind of low when one considers the ridiculous taxes that they collect.

  18. Chart updated to reflect 9 Month Average Daily Attendance (ADA) for the above school districts for Fiscal Year 2015

    Instructional Expenditure per pupil (Instruct Expend per pupil) is from the Chicago Magazine article above.

    The other four figures:
    – operating expense per pupil (OEPP)
    – Per Capita Tuition Charge (PCTC)
    – Total Expenditures per Average Daily Attendance (Ttl Expend per ADA)
    – Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

    are from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

    District – Instruct Expend per pupil – OEPP – PCTC – Ttl Expend per ADA – ADA

    Cary CCSD 26 – $5,408 – $10,393 – $8,893 – $12,315 – 2,249.07

    CHSD 155 – $8,966 – $15,529 – $13,968 – $16,573 – 5,709.32

    Crystal Lake CCSD 47 – $6,186 – $10,570 – $9,301 – $12,285 – 7,163.55

    Marengo Union E Cons D 165 – $4,708 – $9,321 – $7,787 – $10,653 – 957.21

    McHenry CCSD 15 – $7,138 – $12,668 – $11,034 – $14,179 – 4,125.91

    Riley CCSD 18 – $6,829 – $10,266 – $8,896 – $11,588 – 298.16

    Woodstock CUSD 200 – $6,593 – $12,400 – $11,339 – $14,067 – 6,167.95


    Woodstock Total Expenditures $14,067 x $6,167.95 = $86,764,553.

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