Lake Villa Elementary District 41 officials have decided not to shuffle the grade levels of the schools that will remain open next year after J.J. Pleviak Elementary closes.
B.J. Hooper Elementary, William L. Thompson Elementary and Olive C. Martin Elementary will continue serving kindergartners through sixth-graders from specific neighborhoods, the board decided after a long discussion Monday night. Peter J. Palombi Middle School will continue serving seventh- and eighth-graders.
Officials had been considering reserving two of the buildings for kindergartners through fourth graders and making one a facility for fifth- and sixth-grade students. Palombi Middle would have been unaffected.
The board voted 5-2 to keep the current grade alignment.
Board members Joe Dunne and Joanne Osmond wanted to change the alignment. The other five members -- Kurt Hansen, Michele Hawksworth, Michael Conway, Darla Vanderwall and Jolene Lee -- went the other way.
Before the vote, Lee read a prepared statement in which she complained about the process that led to the decision, saying she felt "a great disillusionment" about the effort.
Osmond said she had been a proponent of neighborhood schools. But she also said she believes fifth- and sixth-graders are more mature than their younger peers and deserve their own school.
Hawksworth said she planned to vote against changing the grade alignment because most of the district's principals favored leaving things as they are.
A few parents and teachers attended the board meeting. Parent Jacqui Bevan, whose daughter attended Thompson and will go to Palombi Middle this year, said she would have preferred if the schools were realigned. Even so, she's fine with the board's decision.
"(I) feel the 5-6 option would have better served the students' social-emotional needs," Bevan told the Daily Herald in an email. "Educationally, though, I think both options have advantages and there isn't much of a difference."
The board voted in June to close Pleviak at the end of the 2013-14 term, citing financial concerns and decreasing districtwide enrollment.
Later this school year, the boundaries for the three elementary schools will be redrawn to include students now zoned to attend Pleviak, Superintendent John Van Pelt said.
Classes in District 41 begin Wednesday, Aug. 21. This year's programs aren't affected by Pleviak's pending closure.