Boundary changes proposed in Glen Ellyn District 89

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 89 has unveiled a proposal to overhaul attendance boundaries and reassign roughly 280 students to new schools.

The school board will hear a report early next month from a task force recommending the district redraw boundaries in response to increasing enrollment and space constraints in its buildings. Students in three subdivisions would change schools next year if the board approves the plan.

Children who live in the Baker Hill neighborhood near Roosevelt Road would move from Westfield to Park View Elementary. Students in the International Village apartment complex in Lombard would go from Park View to Arbor View Elementary. And students in the Scottdale community in Wheaton would move from Arbor View to Briar Glen Elementary.

The proposal also should dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of students who transfer from overcrowded neighborhood schools to ones with room in classrooms. Some of those kids take the bus from their home to the neighborhood school and then switch to buses bound for their attending school.

The board adopted the policy in the 2008-09 school year as enrollment dropped during the recession.

"Some of our classrooms were really small and some were reaching capacity," said Superintendent Emily Tammaru, who took the district's helm last July. "We were also trying to deal with some financial implications as well, being fiscally responsible (and) not having to add teachers unnecessarily."

But as enrollment rose, so did the number of so-called administrative transfer students. The district now has 97.

With different boundaries, officials expect there would be no such students next year, but would have to consider how many new ones move into the district. The policy would remain in place as an option to balance school populations in the event of any unexpected enrollment fluctuations.

At the end of the school day, teachers now help some of those students pack up and let them go to their buses first while other students finish their last five minutes.

"Because of the influx, we are running more bus routes between schools," Tammaru said. "And so now a solution that worked for declining enrollment isn't as optimal for increasing enrollment because those students are missing a few educational minutes at the beginning of their day and at the end of the day."

This school year, 122 more students enrolled in the district. A consultant who looked at demographics said the district likely will add about 300 students over the next five years and could potentially add as many as 600.

"People are having more babies, and people are moving into the neighborhood ... Now the market is starting to pick up," Tammaru said. "The community is re-gentrifying."

A committee began studying the issue in October. Members included eight parents of students in the district's four elementary schools, teachers, administrators, school board President Mike Nelson and board member Scott Pope. They considered alternatives such as moving fifth-grade classes to Glen Crest Middle School in Glen Ellyn and adding mobile classrooms.

But Tammaru called the proposed boundary changes - drawn by administrators with input from a consultant - a "sustainable" plan. Students headed to fifth grade next year could stay in their current schools if parents provide their transportation.

Tammaru will host a Q&A for parents about the proposed boundaries at Arbor View Elementary from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"We know that change is difficult, and we want to support them through this change," she said.

The board will review the recommendation at Glen Crest Middle School at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. The board could vote to approve the plan during a meeting in the district's offices at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13.

A decision would have to be made before registration starts in April.

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