Dist. 220 mulls middle school boundaries

At the request of new board member Richard Burkhart, the entire Barrington Unit District 220 Board of Education is mulling whether now is the time to even out the attendance boundaries between Station Middle School and Prairie Middle School.

On the first day of classes last month, Prairie had 1,171 students and Station had 1,028.

While attendance at both middle schools is rarely exactly even, sometimes the disparity between the two grows to the level that some remediation is recommended.

However, at this time, there has been no administrative recommendation to take action.

“The decision we’ll need to make is do we want to do anything,” board President Brian Battle said.

Board members spoke about how shifting populations often help with such readjustments without any need for changing boundaries. And while not entirely accurate enough for long-term planning purposes, the first-day enrollment reports for the last two years indicate that this could be happening.

There were 45 fewer students at the more heavily populated Prairie Middle School on August’s first day of classes than there were a year ago. Station’s population, in contrast, had 40 more students on this year’s first day than last year’s.

New board member Joseph Ruffolo said that as a relative newcomer to the district, he can make no sense of the current attendance boundaries other than “tradition.” Having some students drive past a closer school to attend the one farther away is a situation he’d like to change.

He conceded, however, that such a change could meet with the resistance of the general community and that the situation which seems so unfathomable to him is probably lost on the students themselves, who probably happily adjust to whichever school they’re at.

Another consideration is that if such a change were made for the start of the 2012-13 school year, the research process is already a little behind where it would optimally be, board member Penny Kazmier said.

She said the board should also consider whether or not it already has enough on its plate this year before deciding to take on such a task.

The board plans to take up the discussion again at its next regular meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Barrington High School, 616 W. Main St.