Nearly 400 Lake Villa children whose elementary school building will be shuttered in June now know where they will attend classes next school year, with approval of a new boundary agreement.
The Lake Villa Elementary District 41 school board voted Monday to approve the plan that will send 202 Pleviak Elementary School kindergarten through fifth-graders to William L. Thompson Elementary on Thompson Lane when Pleviak closes in June. The remaining 168 Pleviak students will attend B.J. Hooper Elementary School on Sand Lake Road in Lindenhurst.
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The board approved the boundary changes by a 6 to 1 margin. The new district boundaries go into effect at the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The District 41 school board made its decision in front of about 150 residents as part of changes necessitated by the decision to close Pleviak at Grand Avenue and Route 83 at the end of the current school year.
"We are parents of Pleviak students and we have always respected the process," said resident Chad Porter. "This is a districtwide issue. It's not just Cedar Crossing (subdivision) people or Thompson people ... it's all of us. We are in this together."
However, parents of about 90 students in Country Walk subdivision near Round Lake Beach were upset with the outcome. The plan calls for children in that neighborhood to bypass the closer Thompson school and be bused five miles further to Olive C. Martin Elementary School on West Dering Road.
Country Walk parents pleaded with board members to delay the vote for two weeks to review other alternatives.
"We are urging you to take all the proposals into consideration and take a week or two to figure out the best plan," parent Jennifer Sadre said.
Board members said while they do not like the idea of having to shift students from Thompson to Martin, they have to do what is best for the entire district.
"As much as I'd like to look at how it affects one student, I have to look at the district as a whole," board President Michael Conway said.
The school board voted last June to close Pleviak due to financial concerns and falling districtwide enrollment, Superintendent John Van Pelt has said.
There are about 500 fewer students in 2013-14 than during the 2007-08 school year, and enrollment will drop by 70 students at the start of the 2014-15 school year, he has said.
Closing the aging Pleviak School will save the district about $1.2 million annually, he said.
Monday's vote came after the District 41 redistricting committee recommended splitting the Pleviak students between Hooper and Thompson elementary schools. Most of District 41's remaining students are not affected by the redistricting changes.
Board member Jolene Lee was the lone vote against the approved redistricting plan Monday. She said a second alternative that would send some Pleviak students to Martin elementary was smarter than uprooting the 90 students from Country Walk.
"I fear we are impacting children we do not need to," Lee said.