District 203 still studying boundary plans

Updated 2/22/2012 4:19 PM

Parents looking forward to Naperville Unit District 203's final boundary plan will have to wait at least a few more weeks.

Nearly three dozen parents, mostly representing Mill Street Elementary School, stayed into the early hours Wednesday morning to tell board members just how much they dislike the "amended Map 6" boundary plan presented by the district's enrollment and capacity committee Tuesday evening. As the meeting entered the early morning hours, board members did not vote on the map and, instead, agreed to discuss it further at their March 5 meeting.

The committee, which has been working since October, was charged with presenting a viable plan to the school board that addressed enrollment disparities within the district's 22 schools. The plan was required to support neighborhood schools, maximize facility use, limit transportation changes and affect the fewest of about 17,420 students as possible.

Changes also are necessary to alleviate crowding in the north side's Beebe and Mill Street schools, while also preparing the district to implement academic changes like the nationwide Common Core standards and full-day kindergarten. Board members also sent the full-day kindergarten plan back to the drawing board late Tuesday.

The proposed boundary map would move 1,204 students -- 819 elementary, 124 junior high and 261 high school -- throughout the district.

A majority of the parents in the audience praised the district and the committee for their time and effort but said the plan as presented would have Mill Street overcrowded again in as little as two years.

"Mill Street is in dire need of additional change to Map 6 and I will continue to highlight the south of Ogden region as an area to pull additional students from Mill," said parent Rob Bava, who has led the charge for Mill Street parents throughout the process. "Within one year, I believe, we will again be over capacity. God help us if we are to have all-day kindergarten at Mill Street. All I can think about tonight are 50 additional kids in our lunchroom which would absolutely make a chaotic situation worse."

Parents from both the Green Trails East and Seven Bridges neighborhoods pleaded with board members to reject the proposed plan because it would sent their students to schools four and five miles away, Ranchview and Meadow Glens.

East Green Trails parent Marwan Zaid called the plan ill-conceived.

"For one, nobody listened to anything that anybody had to say from East Green Trails. You are moving us to the furthest school from our area. We are five miles and we pass three grammar schools before we arrive at Ranchview," Zaid said. "It's ridiculous. It's absolutely asinine that you guys would move us five miles away when there are three closer schools. It's nuts. You have to move us to one of the closer schools."

Board members Dave Weeks and Susan Crotty both pressed Finance Director Dave Zager, who drew the maps, if enough had been done to alleviate overcrowding at Mill for the long term. Weeks also asked staff members to consider and provide the staff with any alternative plans to alleviate the crowding at Mill.

Zager said the proposed plan would allow Mill to "function as it needs to function," but warned that he and others would have to monitor enrollment there on at least an annual basis.

Board President Mike Jaensch said the district needs to "go back and sharpen their pencils" before the board reconsiders and possibly votes on or amends the map at the March 5 meeting.

"Just to be clear, that gives us the option of amending Map 6, or implementing parts of it and leaves all of the options on the table," Jaensch said. "I don't want anyone to leave thinking that it's going to be necessarily an up-or-down vote on Map 6. But we heard your comments, appreciate them and we take them seriously."

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