December 10, 2021

District 204 Updated Boundary Concepts Address Community Concerns

After weeks of protest, the community’s voice was heard in the latest changes to Indian Prairie School District 204’s boundary concepts.  The updated plans feature no school closures and several other feedback-based adjustments.

Adjusted Boundary Concepts

It had been a concern for many when the original Concept #1 plan, put together by RSP and Associates, suggested closing Graham and Clow Elementary schools to address underutilization on the south side of the district. The committee and RSP had chosen the schools for their smaller size.

“However, the reasons that you get into why a building would be closed or repurposed, we feel, needs to be more than ‘hey, they are the smaller schools,’” RSP and Associates CEO Robert Schwarz said.  “There may be things about programs, traditions, conditions of the building, that need to be factored in.”

The Welch-Neuqua community also gets to stay intact in the updated Concept #1. Previously it had been split at the DuPage/Will County line, with some moving to Owen Elementary and then Waubonsie Valley High School.

It also allows the Emerson Park community to continue attending its current schools, and accommodates the Atwater community’s request to attend Young Elementary, among other changes.

And both concepts make some changes to address demographic concerns.

“So more than just what amount of housing is single-family or multi-family.  Really digging into some of that student data to try to ensure that we don’t create some imbalances in part of doing this boundary change,” Schwarz said.

Concept #3 also has several new school reassignments, which RSP said stem from the demographic shifts and community feedback.  It also focuses more on creating similar capacities of 2,700 students at each high school in the future.

Some Downsides Remain

Concept #1 does have more broken feeders now, but some committee members still seemed satisfied with the shift.

“You don’t throw out an entire concept because you don’t like one part of it,” one committee member said.  “You adjust it so that it works for everybody.  And I feel like you guys did that.”

Concept #3 also has broken feeders – a few more than Concept #1 – and doesn’t allow for future high school growth with the capacity changes.

And neither concept fully fixes the district’s southern school underutilization, though Concept #3’s innovation spaces may be able to help.

“When you’re declining and you have inventory, we’re just now maybe having the opportunity to think about stuff differently, from the social-mental wellbeing to professional development spaces,” Schwarz said.  “So, there may be a way that the way in which we define capacity may change.”

Next Steps

This may be the final boundary committee meeting – but work for the district’s board of education is only about to begin.  RSP will present these concepts as proposals at a December 20 meeting.  District administration will likely make a recommendation to the board, and they will vote on any changes in January.

The public will be able to provide input on these changes during the meetings’ public comment sessions.

The district will also likely provide information on grandfathering students into their current schools at the December meeting.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.

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