Classroom Conundrum

Wil-O-Way, a neighborhood nestled between Ogden and River Avenue is the source of controversy this week.

What began as a desire to reduce the classroom size of the already overcrowded Mill Street Elementary has become what appears to be a battle of the neighborhoods.

Currently, Mill Street School has 821 students, but the building was only intended to hold 810 students. The District 203 predicts next year’s enrollment to grow to 851, leaving many students in classroom with more than 30 children.

To alleviate the stress of a packed school, the district proposed a plan to move the South side of Wil-O-Way neighborhood’s children to Elmwood Elementary. This would ultimately be a changeover of 40 to 80 students.

Kitty Ryan, the Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs and Services said,

“It moves them to a school where there’s simply more space, we’re hoping that it’ll be enough for Mill Street.”

But this has left Wil-O-Way parents feeling slighted – since this is not the first move, albeit, the first one in nearly 20 years. Overall, parents are primarily upset because of the speed at which the district is requesting the move.

“Why the rush to solve something this year as an emergency when by taking a whole year to study it, we might get an even better solution to the problem,” said Brenden Curran, whose children would move if the proposal is passed.

Some other parents have concerns about the way their youngster will adapt to the new surroundings.

“I have social concerns b/c none of her friends are going to go,” said Brady Ailsworth, a Wil-O-Way resident.

Other neighborhoods, like Cress Creek, are petitioning for smaller class sizes.

Some residents like, Robert Bava, want only what is best for their children, even if it means moving some kids to Elmwood.

“The quality of education comes from the teacher and lower class sizes. It does not come from zones, it does not come from lines, and it does not come from neighborhoods. It comes from the overall number of students in a classroom,” he said.

The Board of Education has not made a final decision yet, but on March 15th all parents will have an answer, and that means things may be different next year.


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