Indian Prairie School District 204 held its third and final boundary forum at Metea Valley High School Wednesday. About 40 community members spoke out against details in the two current boundary concepts.
Before public comment began, the community was able to view concept maps and discuss them directly with district officials and boundary committee members. Concept information did not change between meetings to maintain consistency.
Need For Change Explained
District Board President Laurie Donahue offered some background for how the district found itself here.
“We had a lot of property on the north side primarily, that was zoned as commercial property, that despite our objections – we don’t get a veto vote on the school board when the city decides to make changes – a lot of that was turned into residential properties,” Donahue said.
She said the influx of new families into areas with schools already at capacity meant complex bus routes transporting kids across the district. Social distancing required through the COVID-19 pandemic only highlighted the need for change.
Boundary Forum Public Comment
During the public comment period, some speakers represented the Atwater subdivision community, which would be reassigned and split between Longwood and Young elementary schools in the district’s Concept #1, and reassigned to Longwood in Concept #3.
“You want our elementary kids to walk 25 minutes to Longwood, which is not acceptable,” Atwater resident Mayank Gupta said, also citing traffic and safety concerns.
Gupta said moving the Atwater community entirely to Young Elementary School would meet all the district’s guiding principles.
Others represented the Lehigh Station and Plaza on New York subdivisions. That community would be reassigned to Owen Elementary and Fischer Middle School, with Plaza residents also reassigned to Waubonsie Valley High School, in Concept #1. Concept #3 would only reassign them to Granger Middle School.
Speakers also came from the Welch-Neuqua community, and raised concerns with community splits, traffic safety and commuting, and other issues resulting from Concept #1.
One speaker, Agnes Iraci, spoke for the Anderman Acres community, which was reassigned to Fry Elementary during a small boundary adjustment in 2017.
“The boundary committee and RSP forget to consider the double boundary change put on children in four years,” Iraci said. “Please make it a boundary criteria.”
Sai Ararapalli, an Emerson Park resident, expressed his opposition to proposed boundary changes that he called “disruptive.” Emerson Park would have elementary and middle school reassignments in Concept #1, and a middle school change in Concept #3.
Anrav Pillay, a freshman at Metea Valley High School and Meadow Lakes resident, requested a grandfather option to allow kids impacted by boundary changes to finish their schooling where they currently attend. Meadow Lakes is slated for reassignment to Waubonsie Valley High School in both concepts.
District Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley provided some insight on the district’s thoughts on a grandfather option.
Talley said grandfathering usually applies to students in their “terminal grade,” which would be fifth, eighth, or twelfth grade.
“Indian Prairie, when we opened Metea, allowed rising juniors and seniors to stay in their school, and so that is a possibility,” Talley said. “The other possibility would be allowing those students who are finishing their terminal grades and their siblings in that school to stay.”
Talley said another factor to consider would be whether transportation would be provided for those kids. He said the district board would determine who would be grandfathered and whether the district would provide transportation.
RSP Bias Claims
Third party district demographer RSP and Associates CEO Robert Schwarz addressed claims that he is biased toward Concept #1, and doesn’t discuss concept #3 in as much detail.
“The reason Concept #1 has been spoken about the most is because it’s the most challenging,” Schwarz said.
Now that 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.
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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