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updated: 5/12/2011 2:10 PM

Oak Brook residents get OK to leave school districts

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Residents of a small Oak Brook neighborhood narrowly won their fight to detach from Salt Creek Elementary District 48 and DuPage High School District 88.

But District 48 is "fairly certain" it will appeal, Superintendent John Correll said.

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"The financial impact on us is devastating," Correll said Thursday.

The DuPage Regional Board of School Trustees voted 4-3 Tuesday in favor of the detachment sought by residents of the Timber Trails/Merry Lane area.

Officials from both District 48 and District 88 said they will decide their next steps after reviewing the written report on the decision, due by June 6.

District 48 stands to lose $450,000 in revenue, but only 12 students, Correll said. District 88 estimates it will lose more than $600,000 and four students.

A group of residents from the Timber Trails/Merry Lane neighborhood sought the detachment and annexation to Butler Elementary District 53 and Hinsdale High School District 86.

"They are absolutely elated," said Christopher J. Stull, the attorney representing the residents. "They believe, as I do, that the board made the right decision."

Roughly 80 school-age children live in the neighborhood, a cluster of several small subdivisions north of Oakbrook Center. Most currently attend parochial or private schools.

The petitioners argued it's in the best interest of children in the neighborhood to be in schools that more Oak Brook children attend. That way, they would be able to play on the same park district teams or participate in the same library programs as their classmates.

District 48's kindergarten is in Elmhurst, the primary school is in Oakbrook Terrace and the middle school is in Villa Park. District 88's Willowbrook High School is in Villa Park.

Hinsdale Central High School actually is farther from the neighborhood than Willowbrook, but has more Oak Brook students.

School district boundaries that crisscross municipalities aren't unusual, but detachment hearings are relatively rare.

That's partly because the process is long, involved and expensive. In this case, the testimony continued for eight hearings over many weeks.

"We obviously made our point with some (trustees) but not enough," District 88 Superintendent Steven Humphrey said. "We think we offer tremendous programs for students and their families and we don't understand the reason for the change."

Two years ago, the Regional Board of School Trustees ruled in favor of Bloomingdale residents who wanted to leave Marquardt Elementary District 15 and Glenbard High School District 87 and join Bloomingdale Elementary District 13 and Lake Park High School District 108. That case is now in the appellate court.

Appeals are rarely successful, Stull said.

"The appeals process is a waste of taxpayer money and districts really shouldn't be doing it," he said. "They are spending money they should be using to educate children."

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