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updated: 8/14/2012 5:22 PM

Despite choice, most Naperville students stay put

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Just as officials at two Naperville-area school districts predicted, few families, when offered the choice to move from a "failing" school, took the districts up on the offer.

Naperville Unit District 203 alerted families at Mill Street Elementary School earlier this month that they were allowed to transfer to other district schools. Indian Prairie Unit District 204 offered parents at Georgetown and Longwood elementary schools the choice to transfer because the schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for the third consecutive year.

Last year, both districts were required to offer supplemental services to students at each school that fell short of federal No Child Left Behind standards for the second straight year.

Under No Child Left Behind, 85 percent of students in every subgroup needed to meet standards in 2011 and 2012.

Kitty Ryan, assistant superintendent for elementary education in District 203, said only two students of the estimated 700 enrolled at Mill Street took advantage of the opportunity to move to River Woods Elementary School. Ryan said River Woods was chosen as the alternate because it is a "high-achieving school" with the capacity to take in the students.

"We fielded a handful of calls but ultimately only two families opted to move a total of two students to River Woods," Ryan said after Tuesday's deadline. "The process worked well because (Mill Street Principal) Mary Baum has done a very good job communicating with parents and letting them know that we are focused on preparing all of our kids to exceed at Mill."

District 204 officials won't know for sure until Thursday but they are estimating a total of 40 of the roughly 1,000 students attending Georgetown and Longwood will choose to move to Kendall or Clow elementary schools.

Janet Buglio, spokeswoman for District 204, which covers portions of Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and Bolingbrook, said parents were given a Wednesday deadline. Parents who expressed the desire to move will be given a follow-up telephone call on Thursday.

"Parent information meetings were held at both schools. Approximately 20 parents at each school expressed interest in moving their child for the coming school year," Buglio said Tuesday afternoon. "We will have more definitive numbers once our deadline passes."

The state board of education has submitted a request for a waiver from many mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act to the U.S. Department of Education.

If the state receives that waiver before school begins Wednesday in District 203 or Aug. 23 in District 204, the districts will rescind the choice offering. If a waiver is granted once school starts, the students can stay in their new school for one year or return to their home schools. The districts are required to pay transportation costs for those students for only one year.

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