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updated: 5/2/2014 10:46 AM

Recommendation nears for District 73 restructuring

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The process to determine what changes will be coming to Hawthorn Elementary District 73 is nearing an end, with recommendations expected within a month.

"It's too soon to tell if it will be big or little, but we have to make some changes," said Nick Brown, superintendent of the Vernon Hills-based district.

What began as a required reorganization plan to meet adequate yearly progress requirements for Hawthorn Elementary North and Elementary South has broadened to include a range of issues, such as the possibility of a full-day kindergarten at all district schools.

The school board recently directed the district's reorganization committee to address that possibility, as well as how to grandfather students into their current schools; whether there is community interest in expanding the dual language program through eighth grade; and, doing away with the current school choice model, which allows students to pick Aspen or Townline elementary schools.

Any changes would not become effective until the 2015-16 school year because the reorganization could have rippling affects in a variety of areas, such as the school buildings or busing, for example.

The reorganization committee, which is comprised of two parents and a teacher per building, two school board members, one middle school administrator and a facilitator, will assess the possibilities and present the board with options.

"They're looking at various factors that come into play, such as the capacity of the schools, attendance boundaries, any financial constraints we may have, bus routes," and other aspects, said Jeff Bard, school board president.

The committee had been meeting last year but was on hold pending direction from the school board, which had been busy with a strategic plan for the next five years.

That document, approved this past week, includes seven "high-level change strategies" such as expanding early intervention and multilingual opportunities for students.

By the end of May, the reorganization group is expected to present to the board two or three choices that make logistical and financial sense. A neighborhood school approach, for example, could result in a cost saving, according to Bard.

"We have bus routes picking up kids from three different (schools) in the same neighborhood, so there is some potential," he said.

Utilizing space differently will be another consideration, according to Brown, as some facilities are overutilized and others underused.

The district says not all buildings have extended or full-day kindergarten because of lack of space.

A reorganization plan may also be able to help ease the differences in class sizes within the district because of space issues, the district says.

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