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updated: 2/1/2012 11:14 PM

Lombard District 44 parents dislike boundary changes

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A proposed boundary change meant to equalize class sizes between Butterfield and Manor Hill elementary schools in Lombard Elementary District 44 met questions, emotions and opposition two days in a row at meetings the district held with parents from each school.

The venue for Wednesday's meeting was Butterfield Elementary School, where parents said the proposed boundary change asks them to make "concessions" by increasing their small class sizes to accommodate students now attending nearby Manor Hill Elementary School.

The district is proposing to move students to Butterfield instead of Manor Hill if they live in a rectangular area between 22nd Street on the north, Butterfield Road on the south, Finley Road on the west and Maxant Road on the east.

Fourth-graders at Manor Hill could finish fifth grade there, but younger students would be required to switch next school year, Superintendent Jim Blanche said.

"We're going to provide a much more equitable opportunity for all of our kids by doing this, and it tends to level the playing field," Blanche said to about 35 parents attending the meeting.

For several years, Butterfield has had lower enrollment than the other five elementary schools in the district, with class sizes between 15 and 17 students in three grade levels. At Manor Hill, class sizes are often in the high 20s, with this year's third-grade classes at 30 and 31 students, Blanche said.

"We believe it's time to address this once and for all," Blanche said.

Butterfield school has some empty classrooms and could accommodate between 61 and 72 more students from Manor Hill next year, depending on how many fourth-graders choose to finish their last elementary year at their current school.

Butterfield Principal Kristine Walsh said bringing additional students to Butterfield would create two sections for each grade level, which could help if certain students just can't get along.

"In the long run, educationally, you can't beat it," Walsh said about the idea of equalizing class sizes throughout the district.

Parent John Alexander questioned why the district doesn't build an addition to Manor Hill if it's the location dealing with overcrowding. He said he and his wife chose their home based partly on Butterfield school and its small class sizes. Alexander and several other parents said they are reluctant to see those class sizes increase.

The recommended boundary change is likely to be on the school board's agenda for preliminary discussion at its Feb. 14 meeting, but final action won't be taken until March 20, Blanche said.

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