Moving some Naperville 5th graders to junior high 'good for our kids'

  • Naper Elementary parents seem on board with the idea of moving incoming fifth-graders to Washington Junior High next year to solve space issues at the elementary school.

      Naper Elementary parents seem on board with the idea of moving incoming fifth-graders to Washington Junior High next year to solve space issues at the elementary school. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/8/2015 8:37 AM

It sounds like the kind of idea that might meet a lot of opposition from parents, but a proposal to move fifth-graders from a crowded elementary in Naperville to a nearby junior high is moving toward approval with apparent community support.

Naper Elementary parents nodded their approval Monday night as school board members recapped a home and school association meeting in which the crowd's questions about the plan all were answered by administrators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"(Principal) Jon (Vogel) did an awesome job of allaying any fears or concerns," school board member Jackie Romberg said about the junior high administrator who could be welcoming a younger set of students to his building next year.

A lot of "thoughtful planning" went into the proposal to move fifth-graders from Naper to Washington Junior High, where they will use a separate entrance, have rooms and lockers clustered in one area, operate on an elementary schedule complete with their own lunch and recess times and participate in elementary-level after school activities, Superintendent Dan Bridges said.

The district wants to move the oldest students from its oldest elementary to alleviate space constraints at Naper, 39. S Eagle St., where the beginning of all-day kindergarten forced art classes to take place in the library, where small groups of students meet in the hallways and music ensembles share a basement room or practice in the teachers' lounge.

"I truly believe it's good for our kids," Romberg said.

Reassigning fifth-graders to Washington Junior High would free up two classrooms at the 12-room Naper school, which doesn't have the space on its 2.3 acres for an addition, administrators said. At 349 students, Naper has about 20 more kids than enrollment estimated predicted, while at 616 students, Washington has 15 fewer than projected.

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Pending school board approval of the move during its next meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 in the administrative center at 203 W. Hillside Road, the plan will prompt the district to spruce up both buildings.

"This will give us an opportunity to have to address some facility needs at both schools, specifically the LRC (library resource center) spaces," Bridges said.

If approved, about 50 incoming fifth-graders would leave Naper one year early and begin attending Washington Junior High at 201 N. Washington St. in the fall. The extra students can fit within the school's capacity of 750.

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