The current state of Indian Prairie School District 204’s boundary adjustment process has raised alarms among parents in some neighborhoods.
Boundary Redraw Reasons
The district initiated the boundary adjustment process after completing a demographic study in spring 2021.
“The study identified several enrollment trends and challenges the district needs to address that are projected to impact enrollment over the next several years,” IPSD204 Chief School Business Official Matt Shipley said in an email.
These trends included current or projected overcapacity at several schools on the northern side of the district, and current or projected underutilization at several schools on the southern side of the district.
The district also considered attendance areas that could see future development.
The district has brainstormed concepts to address these issues using a boundary committee made up of about 60 volunteer community members from each school, as well as others not directly connected to the district.
After six boundary committee meetings and weeks of feedback, the committee is currently considering two concepts, known as “Concept #1” and “Concept #3”.
Concept #1 includes a complete feeder system from middle schools to high schools and reduced community-to-school islands.
Students who go to Clow, with 365 kids in the 2020-2021 count, would be split between Owen, Patterson, and Spring Brook elementary schools.
Naperville parent Chris Bond, whose daughter attends Clow Elementary, said he is confident in Naperville’s schools from an academic standpoint.
“I am concerned though, particularly in regards to Spring Brook,” Bond said. “When you’re taking the number one [elementary] school in the state according to Niche.com just this past week, and you’re suddenly incorporating close to 250 new students, raising the capacity by almost 20% if not more, I just can’t envision the school maintaining that caliber of academics with that degree of change.”
Bond also raised concerns about no longer being able to walk his daughter with the increased distance to a new school.
Students currently at Graham, which had 272 kids in 2020-2021, would be split between Builta and Kendall elementary schools.
“Not only would the closure of Graham mean that the district would lose a school that has a long-standing status as a top elementary school in Naperville, but this drastic measure would also destroy the thriving community that has developed around Graham in the High Meadow and River Run subdivisions,” a group called Graham Elementary Community said in a Change.org petition that currently has over 900 signatures.
“Students from some or all of my community will be crossing Route 59 twice a day [in Concept #1],” Mission Oaks resident Jasti Babu said at a September 27 board meeting. “They will be crossing a set of railroad tracks. They will be traversing major traffic intersections. All this to get to Still and Waubonsie schools, when they can go to the local Welch and Neuqua schools in a matter of minutes.”
Other Mission Oaks parents at the meeting raised concerns about their kids being separated from friends who live just blocks away, and difficulty participating in after-school activities with the increased distance.
Concept #3 would utilize new capacities in each school after repurposing some rooms as innovation spaces, and add four classrooms to Longwood Elementary, according to RSP and Associates, a third-party educational planning firm hired to generate the concepts. No schools would close under this concept.
RSP said drawbacks of Concept #3 include a variety of broken or incomplete feeder systems at all levels, lack of capacity for growth at the high school level, and that funding for building enhancements has not been secured.
Shipley said Concept #3 still improves on the current feeder system, prioritizes contiguous boundaries, and eliminates most attendance islands.
Shipley said the committee “continues to modify concepts and all discussions at this time are concepts only.”
The next boundary committee meeting is at Still Middle School Wednesday, October 27, at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to observe these meetings, but will not have an opportunity to provide comment at that time.
Before the next meeting, the District will provide updated student counts for the 2021-22 school year, which will be used to update the concepts.
A trio of community forums will be held at each high school within the district in November, where community members will be able to review concepts and provide input.
After a final boundary committee meeting December 8, the district board will be presented with boundary proposals to consider, and take action on any changes at a January 2022 meeting, Shipley said.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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