District 15 forming advisory group to study possible boundary changes

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 is forming an advisory group to examine potential school boundary changes.

Called the Boundaries Task Force, the panel is expected to have 15 to 20 members from all areas of District 15. The volunteers will look at the current boundaries and enrollment trends, and eventually issue a recommendation with options for potential changes to the school board.

At least 160 residents have applied to be on the advisory panel, Superintendent Scott Thompson said Thursday. Thompson and task force co-chairs Asad "Sid" Aman and Nipesh Patel will be in charge of weeding through the applications and selecting the members.

Aman said it's hoped the task force will have recommendations for the school board in January or sooner.

"The issue of common-sense boundaries in the district is an important one," she said. "Ideally, you want students to go to a school that's in their neighborhood, to have a reasonable class size, to have a reasonable bus ride to (and) from school, and to go to the same middle school and high school as the rest of their elementary school and middle school classmates. Ideally, you also want to not impact students that already have all this."

Thompson said the District 15 board created a strategic plan that directed the administration to complete an analysis of the use of all facilities. That will lead to a plan for future use of all schools.

"Currently, some of our schools are underutilized while others are overcrowded and growing," he said. "The task force will analyze current boundaries, and after examining possible solutions, propose some scenarios to the community and the board of education.

The board wants the process to be inclusive of stakeholders from a wide variety of perspectives."

Online applications for the Boundaries Task Force will be accepted through Monday, Sept. 10.

The first meeting is set for Sept. 27.

Changes in the school boundaries would balance the student population throughout the district, Thompson said. It would make use of schools and classrooms "in the most efficient, logical manner," thus benefiting students, he added.

"There are stakeholders on both sides of the issue," Thompson said.

"Some want changes, others are concerned about possibly being moved to a new school. Top concerns would be overcrowded schools and resulting larger class sizes. Also, some parents are concerned about the long bus rides that some students experience because of boundary maps."

Attendance boundary changes were an issue in 2016, when they were part of District 15's rejected referendum that asked permission to borrow $130 million.

The failed proposal called for a redrawing of boundaries, two new schools, full-day kindergarten, demolition of Gray M. Sanborn Elementary School, repurposing Osage Park, reconfiguring bus routes and switching from junior highs to sixth-through-eighth grade middle schools.

District 15 has about 12,800 students in 22 schools.

The district includes some or all of Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg.

  District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson Mark Welsh/, 2016
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