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updated: 8/9/2011 5:32 PM

Kaneland not a choice for District 129 students

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The Kaneland school board Monday turned down a request from West Aurora School District 129 that could have sent some District 129 elementary students to Kaneland schools.

District 129 sought an agreement with Kaneland to offer Kaneland's elementary schools as choices for students dissatisfied with attending failing schools in District 129. Those schools are those that, according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, have failed to make "adequate yearly progress" on improving standardized assessment test scores. A school district must offer students the choice of attending a better-performing school.

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Normally, a district would offer a choice within its district. Districts are also supposed to arrange intergovernmental agreements with neighboring districts, if possible, in case they don't have room in their own schools for school-choice students.

Kaneland turned District 129 down because it did not have the staff to accommodate more children without raising class-size levels, according to Superintendent Jeff Schuler. Adding staff would cost money, and West Aurora's superintendent indicated that district would likely not be able to pay anything toward those costs, such as out-of-district tuition, Schuler said. "That's the problem, quite honestly," he said.

Mike Chapin, community relations coordinator for District 129, characterized District 129's request as routine, not an indication that it has too many students seeking school choice to accommodate them in the district's schools. He said District 129 has sent letters in the past to other districts, such as East Aurora District 131. Six of District 129's elementary schools must offer choices this fall.

Schuler said it was the first time he knows of that District 129 has sent such a letter to Kaneland.

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