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updated: 12/20/2011 6:58 PM

Naperville District 203 on boundary maps: 'We screwed up'

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  • A new boundary scenario that featured the potential closing of Washington Junior High School sent more than 100 angry parents to Monday night's meeting.

       A new boundary scenario that featured the potential closing of Washington Junior High School sent more than 100 angry parents to Monday night's meeting.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

More than 100 of Naperville Unit District 203's bakers and candlestick makers had quite a bone to pick with the butcher Monday evening.

District officials led off Monday night's meeting with a series of apologies for the community fallout from the district's Friday afternoon posting of "supposal" new district boundary maps that included the closing of both Ellsworth Elementary and Washington junior high schools.

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Parents from those communities flocked to the meeting to raise their concerns and fears about two schools in their neighborhood potentially closing and the effects that would have on their children and the neighborhood.

Board members and administrators attempted to head off the concerns immediately by admitting that the released plan is not one they would support but one that needed to be considered.

"Unfortunately, in our efforts to be transparent, you're seeing the sausage being made," said board President Mike Jaensch. "There is stuff in there that is not good, but you have to look at all options."

Superintendent Mark Mitrovich said he understands the impact that boundary adjustments have on families and students and apologized for the matter-of-fact way in which many felt the information was presented Friday. In the future, he said, the district "can and will do better" communicating, he said.

"We want to address the issue with thought and sensitivity, but obviously we have made a major misstep in the message and the timing of what we've done," he said. "For that I take full responsibility and I apologize for the anxiety this has created for many people."

Jaensch also apologized for the miscommunication.

"It's very difficult, after the fact, to try to explain what the process was," he said. "Pardon my language, but we screwed up, so we're trying to be transparent and keep everyone involved while moving the process forward."

Earlier this fall the district contracted with RSP Associates to work with a district committee to study the district's current and future building capacity and the impact that capacity has on services offered by the district. Factors they're supposed to be watching include the local housing market, infrastructure enhancements throughout the city and corporate movement.

The next scenarios will be posted on the district website no later than Friday afternoon this week. They will include all schools and will reflect the comments and recommendations of the committee.

The findings of the committee will then be presented to the board at 7 p.m. Dec 19. at a meeting held in the auditorium at Naperville Central High School.

At that time, next steps will be shared by the board.

Linda Hansen, one of the nearly 20 parents to address the board, warned them to be more selective with their product moving forward.

"I want to state that if we're going to take a peek at you making the sausage, (we want to) make sure that you're using real meat."

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