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posted: 3/15/2013 4:10 PM

Gilberts: Keep our students at Gilberts School

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Gilberts village and school leaders have made a pre-emptive stand against potential boundary changes affecting their elementary school.

Community Unit District 300 officials announced in January they would be considering boundary changes that would take effect as early as the 2014-15 academic year. Since that announcement rumors have been flying over which schools would be affected.

The village loaned District 300 $1.5 million for Gilberts Elementary School and contributed $120,000 for its access road. A resolution approved by the village board Tuesday noted that financial involvement while voicing strongly worded opposition to any boundary changes that would pull Gilberts students away from the school.

The village is segmented by I-90 and railroad tracks, geographical separation that PTO President Rich Janiec said has defined the community in the past.

"Now it seems, because of the school, our kids play sports together, they go to birthday parties together," he said. "It really keeps the community together."

Gilberts Elementary School was built for 750 students and now serves 850.

The boundary changes are being considered because of overcrowding at some schools, future growth projections and changes required because of a commitment to smaller class sizes, according to Allison Strupeck, District 300 director of communication services.

The Gilberts village board resolution notes boundary changes to be a violation of a commitment by district officials to keep the community's students together. But Strupeck said the district never stated or implied any such commitment.

"The fact is that the majority of the 15 villages across D300's 118 square miles have students attending multiple elementary schools, both inside and outside of their municipal boundaries," Strupeck said. "Their sense of community still remains strong."

Strupeck said District 300 doesn't have the money to build additions onto schools or add mobile classrooms, a reality that necessitates better use of existing classroom space.

Families who will be affected by any proposed changes will be notified before any decision is made, Strupeck said. But it is still too early in the process to say who that will be.

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