Public gets chance to be heard on U-46 boundary changes today

  • New Principal Marcie Marzullo meets parents at Ronald D. O'Neal Elementary School in Elgin on the first day of classes earlier this year. Proposed boundary changes would impact O'Neal and 15 other Elgin Area School District U-46 elementary schools next year.

      New Principal Marcie Marzullo meets parents at Ronald D. O'Neal Elementary School in Elgin on the first day of classes earlier this year. Proposed boundary changes would impact O'Neal and 15 other Elgin Area School District U-46 elementary schools next year. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Tony Sanders

    Tony Sanders

 
 
Posted12/7/2015 5:45 AM

Elgin schools officials today will discuss proposed boundary changes affecting roughly 900 students.

The proposal, being recommended by Elgin Area School District U-46 administrators and the district's Citizens' Advisory Council, is the culmination of nearly two years of discussions and three public hearings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The U-46 school board will vet the council's recommendations at 6 p.m. today in the auditorium of South Elgin High School, 760 E. Main St., South Elgin.

Community members will have the opportunity to provide feedback before the school board votes on the proposal at its Dec. 14 meeting, starting at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at the Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St., Elgin.

If approved by the board, the changes would impact 16 of the district's 40 elementary schools next academic year.

U-46 hasn't changed boundaries since 2004.

The Citizens' Advisory Council's Enrollment and Facilities Committee recommended the boundary changes to alleviate overcrowding that's existed since 2007. The council's membership last month overwhelmingly approved the proposal.

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"The changes outlined in this proposal represent an efficient use of space that has long been needed," U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said. "Boundary changes can be difficult, but I commend all the volunteers as well as our professional staff who have spent more than a year studying demographic and operational information to develop the best possible plan."

The proposal recommends moving:

• 116 students from Channing to Ronald O'Neal, Garfield and Huff elementary schools, all in Elgin

• 44 students from Harriet Gifford to Lowrie, both in Elgin

• 177 students from Hillcrest to Highland, both in Elgin

• 226 students from Lincoln in Hoffman Estates to Lords Park, McKinley and Coleman, all in Elgin

• 107 students from Nature Ridge to Liberty, both in Bartlett

• 4 students from Otter Creek to Highland, both in Elgin

The plan includes moving 227 students from Liberty's English as a Second Language program to Prairieview, also in Bartlett, and adding classrooms at Coleman, Highland and Laurel Hill in Hanover Park. Coleman and Highland would gain 10 new classrooms and Laurel Hill would gain six.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Officials have said changing boundaries would allow the district the ability to offer full-day kindergarten for all students next school year. About 79 percent of Illinois kindergarten classes are full-day classes, officials said.

Instituting full-day kindergarten also would limit the number of students affected by redrawn boundaries, officials said.

Full-day kindergarten would cost the district $6.9 million in the first year and take about six years to recoup that initial investment, excluding construction costs.

The program is expected to become self-sustaining by the second year and save the district the cost of busing students by eliminating midday kindergarten routes. It also would generate revenue from General State Aid, increased registration fees and additional funding for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, officials said.

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