Naperville 203 likely looking at boundary changes, neighborhood schools

Updated 10/3/2011 11:45 PM

Naperville Unit School District 203 officials, already facing overcrowded schools in the near future on the district's north end and undercapacity schools on the south end, is looking to get the best use from all of its buildings.

With Navistar projecting 600 new employees in the area and another unnamed employer projecting another 1,500 new employees in the near future, the district has enlisted the services of RSP Associates to study the district's current and future building capacity and the impact that capacity has on services offered by the district. Factors they'll be watching include the local housing market, infrastructure enhancements throughout the city and corporate movement like the two major employers relocating to the area.

A citizen advisory committee will also work with Superintendent Mark Mitrovich between Oct. 26 and the end of the year to refine the study results produced by RSP.

"It's best practice for a school district to be current with what's happening regarding its population of students and it's been about six years since we reviewed what's happening within this district," Mitrovich said. "We need to be as current as possible so it was within normal time span for the district to re-evaluate where we are in terms of demographics within the district."

District officials stressed Monday night that the process was beginning and urged the public not to jump to any conclusions but early speculation among board members was that the district would be moving to a neighborhood schools model.

"We're trying to get as many people into the school closest to them and that promotes the neighborhoods, promotes kids walking to school which saves on transportation costs and everything else," said Board President Mike Jaensch. "Neighborhood schools provide the most effective and efficient delivery of education possible."

He called the current boundary map, particularly in the center of the city, "silly."

The board hopes to have some solutions, from the RSP and the citizen's committee by the end of the year. That timeline would hopefully give the district time to implement any boundary changes before registration in the spring.

"We're going to be very deliberate about this, We don't yet have the answers," Mitrovich said. "We're trying to get that here and we'll share the info with a broader audience when we have it. Where we end in December, no one is prepared to say."