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updated: 2/15/2012 4:52 PM

District 44 hears parents' boundary concerns

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  • A boundary change proposed in Lombard Elementary District 44 would move students living between 22nd Street on the north, Butterfield Road on the south, Finley Road on the west and the district's eastern border to Butterfield School next year instead of Manor Hill School.

      A boundary change proposed in Lombard Elementary District 44 would move students living between 22nd Street on the north, Butterfield Road on the south, Finley Road on the west and the district's eastern border to Butterfield School next year instead of Manor Hill School.

 
 

During the first school board discussion of a proposed boundary change in Lombard Elementary District 44, board members heard from about two dozen parents opposed to the shift and a handful of parents optimistic the change would provide more equitable learning opportunities.

But the board didn't vote Tuesday night on whether to approve the new boundaries, which are expected to balance class sizes by sending about 72 students from Manor Hill School to Butterfield School next year. A vote is scheduled for March 20.

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The majority of the 28 parents who spoke have children at Manor Hill who would be switching schools if the boundary change is approved. Of those parents, the majority either opposed the change, asked for it to be implemented slower or offered alternatives.

"As far as determining your boundaries, to be equitable, everybody is supposed to be in their neighborhood school," parent Ruta Pebenito said. "Manor Hill is my neighborhood."

Some parents suggested the boundary change be grandfathered in for incoming students living between 22nd Street on the north, Butterfield Road on the south, Finley Road on the west, and the district's eastern border, instead of applied next school year to almost all students in the area. This year's fourth-graders would be allowed to finish fifth grade at Manor Hill even if the boundary change is approved.

Manor Hill parents also suggested using mobile classrooms or reclaiming the space rented to the Tri-Town YMCA for classroom use.

But Tod Altenburg, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said two mobile classrooms would cost at least $48,500 for delivery and a three-year lease, and would come with other costs for utilities.

The YMCA is in the first year of a three-year lease of one classroom, an office and a conference room. Even if the lease was soon to expire, Altenburg said the area wouldn't add enough space to relieve Manor Hill's overcrowding.

"It is much too crowded ... Our kids trip over each other in the hallways," Manor Hill parent Jeanne Iovinelli said. "Something has to be done, and it can't be add trailers or keep all of the kids at Manor Hill. It's just not working."

While Manor Hill parents dominated the meeting, a few Butterfield parents expressed support of the plan.

"One of the situations I've been worried about in the last five years is the lowering enrollment at Butterfield School," said parent Roberta Wallerstedt, whose children now attend Glenbard High School District 87. "I believe that if we make this move, as hard as it is, it's going to keep Butterfield School viable."

School board member Amy Weltin said she has not made a decision on how she will vote in March, but she will try to represent the entire community fairly with a decision that's "not taken lightly."

School board Vice President Brooke Wozniak reminded parents Butterfield and Manor Hill both are "loving, welcoming, high-performing, safe" environments.

"Anything we do to resolve the overcrowding at Manor Hill and the empty space at Butterfield is going to be hard for somebody. What we have to do is what's best for as many people as possible in the situation," Wozniak said. "As (Superintendent Jim) Blanche has said over and over, its about equity in education, and equity for all the students in both Manor Hill and Butterfield communities."

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