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updated: 12/8/2011 12:20 PM

Naperville District 203 taps brakes on boundary studies

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The Naperville Unit District 203 committee charged with studying and ultimately recommending a boundary solution to the board of education, has hit the brakes.

The Superintendent's Enrollment Capacity Study Group met for more than two hours Wednesday night and only reviewed one of five proposed elementary boundary maps, expected to be posted on the district's webpage Friday, before deciding to pull back.

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Ultimately the 25-member committee is charged with presenting a viable plan that will address disparity within the district, support neighborhood schools, maximize the use of facilities, limit transportation and impact the fewest number of students possible.

Rather than recommending a new boundary proposal to the board on Dec. 19, the committee will be asking for time and additional manpower.

"I think we need to slow the bus down. This deserves more time," Superintendent Mark Mitrovich said. "I also recommend that the committee be expanded to represent each school."

The official recommendations be made to the board of education on Dec. 19 will be to: extend the timetable so a viable plan the meets the needs of our District can be developed, expand the process to include representatives from all schools, review the priorities that were identified early in the process to determine if they accurately represent the long-term goals of the district and address overcrowding issues at Mill and Beebe schools prior to the 2012-2013 academic year.

More immediately, the five proposed maps expected to be released on Friday will not be made public.

"I don't see anything being served by posting these maps on the district website because I think we accomplished a lot here tonight. But unless you were here, you don't know what was gone through," Mitrovich said. "To literally throw the map up would take us back to what we went through before."

The district came under fire Monday night for releasing one map proposal last Friday that suggested the closing of Washington Junior High and Ellsworth Elementary schools. Because only one map was presented, several parents misunderstood the proposal to be a done deal and about 150 attended Monday's board meeting demanding answers.

Wednesday night's committee meeting was the first of its kind to be made open to the public and the media.

Ten parents, mostly representatives from their Home & School associations, attended and were delighted by the committee's decision to step back and take a breath.

"Relieved is probably the best word," Home & School Vice President Vice President Christine Kilkenny said. "I'm very happy they realized the were rushing too fast."

Ellsworth Elementary Home & School President Monica Lucibello also expressed relief.

"Knowing that they're slowing down and not making a change for change sake is thrilling," she said. "And adding a representative from each school should make our community happy and make (the process) fair across the board."

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