Upset parents protested against school District 203’s efforts to remap boundary lines. The administration is working with a committee to develop maps that will move hundreds of students from school to school in order to balance enrollment and expand educational programming.
The more than 100 parents carried signs reading “Slow this down,” and “Think before you act” to the latest Enrollment and Capacity Study Committee meeting at Washington Junior High. Many say they still don’t understand the district’s motives.
When you start moving kids around without a clear reason why, that’s not a great place to raise a family,” said Maria Mulhair.
Others say the process is happening all too fast.
“Let’s step back, take a breath, and not rush into something that’s going to have a drastic impact on kids and really think about the best solution here,” said Rob Harbour.
But Superintendent Mark Mitrovich says the administration is trying to do what’s best for all the students in a timely manner.
“We will take the time to get it done but dragging this out too long puts people in doubt and I think it’s equally as frustrating to them,” Mitrovich said.
At the meeting parents listened as district staff presented two additional maps outlining potential boundary changes, on top of the three maps revealed at the previous meeting.
Map four moves 711 elementary students, 124 middle schoolers, and 207 high school students, while map five moves 730 elementary school students, 124 junior high students, and 199 high schoolers.
Though the maps vary a bit, all five have about 180 students from Highlands moving to Maplebrook or Meadow Glen Elementary Schools. This had parents leaving the meeting still feeling uneasy.
“with 30% of the school population gone, there’ll be empty classrooms and so why split up highlands before any programs aren’t even approved?” said Pattii Papageorge.
“I’m a little dismayed that the school they’re choosing to send us to is a bit further away,” said Laura Anderson.
“We fully support the overcrowding issues being resolved,” said Harbour. “What we want to understand is why are we in a rush to take 179 kids from highlands and move them to a school and a community they’re not yet familiar with?”
Despite complaints, Mitrovich remains optimistic that the committee is progressing in the right direction and praises members for sticking to the task at hand.
“They want to take the time to get it right. And we’ll get a great solution. Will it be the solution that everybody wants? No it won’t. We can’t. That’s not reality,” he said. “But I think it’ll be a thoughtful decision not only for right now – we’re also thinking what does it do for the future, 5, 10 years out.”
The Enrollment and Capacity Study Committee will hold public forums throughout January and February.
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