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updated: 1/18/2012 11:44 PM

District 203 delays boundary change decision

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  • A large group of protesters gather at Washington Junior High School in Naperville Wednesday despite cold weather. These parents were there to show their dissatisfaction with plans to redraw some Naperville Unit District 203 boundaries.

       A large group of protesters gather at Washington Junior High School in Naperville Wednesday despite cold weather. These parents were there to show their dissatisfaction with plans to redraw some Naperville Unit District 203 boundaries.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Amelia Borsis of Naperville holds her sign high at Washington Junior High School while protesting plans to redraw some school boundaries in Naperville Unit District 203 Wednesday. She is a Highlands School parent.

       Amelia Borsis of Naperville holds her sign high at Washington Junior High School while protesting plans to redraw some school boundaries in Naperville Unit District 203 Wednesday. She is a Highlands School parent.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Jocelyn Harris of Naperville Holds a "Children At Risk" sign while attending the protest at Washington Junior High School in Naperville Wednesday. More than 100 protesters took part in the demonstration against plans to redraw some school boundaries in Naperville Unit District 203.

       Jocelyn Harris of Naperville Holds a "Children At Risk" sign while attending the protest at Washington Junior High School in Naperville Wednesday. More than 100 protesters took part in the demonstration against plans to redraw some school boundaries in Naperville Unit District 203.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

They've now spent more than seven hours with a total of five maps and considered moves that would affect between 930 and 1,200 children.

But the Naperville Unit District 203 enrollment and capacity committee needs more time and at least another meeting before members are ready to submit a revamped boundary proposal to the board.

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Such a delay, however, would almost certainly rule out any changes taking place next school year and puts the focus on 2013-2014. Superintendent Mark Mitrovich confirmed during Wednesday night's committee meeting that a February vote is unlikely and a decision may not be known until March, which would likely be too late to affect enrollment for next year.

"All along, we've said it's going to take as long as it's going to take," Mitrovich said. "At this point, it wouldn't go in next year. Even if we decided tomorrow, it wouldn't happen next year. The reality is more 2013-2014."

The district formed a committee charged with presenting a viable boundary plan to the school board that addresses enrollment disparities within the district's 22 schools.

The plan must support neighborhood schools, maximize facility use, limit transportation changes and affect as few of about 17,420 students as possible.

Changes, district officials say, are necessary to alleviate overcrowding at Beebe and Mill Street schools and low capacity in others, while preparing the district to implement academic changes such as full-day kindergarten, dual language immersion programs and the nationwide Common Core curriculum.

The committee was presented five maps Wednesday -- the three from last week and two new maps -- provided feedback on all five, and asked questions. Maps 4 and 5 took into account much of the feedback the district received from the committee last week and from community members who viewed the maps online.

Several comments, originated from the Highlands School community, with parents upset that each of the three proposals send between 150 and 176 students from their school to Maplebrook and Meadow Glen schools to accommodate a proposed all-day kindergarten.

Prior to the meeting, about 100 of those parents gathered outside Washington Junior High School holding signs in opposition to the plans and chanting slogans like "No relocation! No justification!"

"I'm a concerned Highland parent and I think we need answers and we're not receiving them. There's no transparency," said Amelia Borsis. "I'm eight months pregnant and I'm freezing out here and I'm willing to stand out here the entire meeting if they don't let me in to get my point across."

Another parent, Wei Ru, said he wished the district would only address the immediate overcrowding issues at Beebe and Mill Street schools by building additions or using temporary classrooms.

"We just want them to slow down," he said. "Deal with Beebe and Mill first and don't touch Highlands."

The group was allowed to enter the meeting and view the committee at work, with the caveat that they left their signs outside. By about halfway through the three-hour meeting, less than half of them remained.

And those who stayed were not impressed.

"The fact that they gave us a space to sit was very kind of them, obviously by law they have to," said Susan Wade, a Highlands parent. "There's some kind of shroud. I still don't feel like I'm being told the honest truth as to why my two children have to leave a school that is not at capacity."

The committee is still scheduled to update the board of education on Monday evening and is likely to schedule what they believe will be their final meeting within the next two weeks.

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