For the first time in Indian Prairie School District 204’s boundary adjustment process, community members were able to view concept maps, speak directly with the boundary committee, and officially voice their concerns at last night’s community forum.
Kicking Off The Night
Dozens gathered outside Waubonsie Valley High School to protest the district’s two current concepts before the forum began. It started with a word from District 204 Board President Laurie Donahue, explaining the need for the boundary adjustments.
“At the north end of our district, primarily we have overcrowding, and at the south end we have underutilization. So we have schools that range from 100% capacity to 35% capacity, and that’s a problem,” Donahue explained.
She added that unexpected residential developments have contributed to the north side overcrowding, and social distancing required by the pandemic only highlighted the issue.
39 people spoke during the public comment period, the majority representing the Welch-Neuqua community. Others spoke on behalf of the Atwater and Emerson Park subdivisions, the Clow Elementary community, and other District 204 groups. Each was allotted one minute to speak.
One of the main areas of concern surrounded Concept #1’s Welch-Neuqua community split, which would reassign homes north of the DuPage County/Will County line to Owen Elementary and eventually Waubonsie Valley High School.
“The boundary line in Concept #1 separates community by dividing next-door and backyard neighbors, does not visually make sense, and does not utilize natural divisions between neighborhoods, therefore violating [boundary] criteria one and seven,” Mission Oaks subdivision resident Anna Endrea said.
Others said the same boundary split would cause major commuting and traffic safety concerns.
“I can only imagine how that might impact a student driver, that would have to travel four miles early in the morning, drowsy, and crossing Montgomery’s railroad crossing and Highway 59,” Neuqua Valley High School freshman Paul Casco said. “Moving residents of Mission Oaks to Waubonsie jeopardizes the safety of many roadway users, and of a substantial number of my peers who are student drivers.”
Clow Elementary parent Cecilia Lindquest questioned the accuracy of enrollment data and effectiveness of current concepts. Concept #1 proposes the closure of Clow Elementary to address south side underutilization.
“The district last week via email admitted that there is not a single classroom available at Clow,” Lindquest said. “Why are we on the chopping block?”
Representing the Emerson Park subdivision, Chintu Patel advocated against changes to her community proposed in both concepts.
“In Concept #1, our students are getting uprooted from Fry Elementary and Scullen Middle, and mapped to White Eagle Elementary and Still Middle School,” Patel said. “We oppose this concept. While in Concept #3, we are being mapped to Still Middle School, discontinuing Scullen Middle School friends and family. This concept is also opposed. We strongly feel that the governing criterias [sic] set by the board are not maintained and violated.”
And representing the Atwater subdivision, Arun Narayan asked to keep his community united at Young Elementary through the adjustments.
“You have us going to Young in Concept #1, but you only have half the community going there. The other half is broken,” Narayan said.
Some parents called for a “grandfather option,” to allow their high school-aged kids to continue at the school they currently attend.
“In January, [students] will begin working with teachers to select classes for next year. It is an emotionally hard thing for them to do when they don’t even know what school they’ll be at next year,” Metea Valley High School parent Shelly Haerysz said.
Boundary Process Next Steps
Monday’s forum was the first of three for the community to provide concept feedback for the committee. The next will be at Neuqua Valley High School Tuesday night, followed by a final forum at Metea Valley High School Wednesday night. Concept information shown at each forum will be the same as the previous one.
Once the district’s community forum series is complete, there will be at least one more boundary committee meeting December 8 to implement feedback.
The boundary concepts will then be delivered as proposals to the District 204 Board of Education for review. They are expected to take action on any changes in early 2022.
‘These concepts are not etched in marble,” District Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley said to ease concerns. “As I have said before, they are barely etched in Jell-O, and we continue to make changes to them.”
Talley stressed that the board will make the final decision regarding boundary changes, even after proposals are presented.
People can visit District 204’s boundary website to view current concept maps, give feedback on the process via a boundary survey, and find additional information on the next steps of the boundary process.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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