Boundary change in Dist. 204 could be 'hard pill to swallow'
Some parents are expressing a mix of appreciation and concern about Indian Prairie Unit District 204's plan to alleviate overcrowding at two elementary schools by adjusting attendance boundaries.
Populations at May Watts and Gwendolyn Brooks elementary schools have swelled past the 675-student capacity the buildings can handle without using art and music spaces for regular instruction. So administrators proposed moving students from three subdivisions and three more under construction away from the overloaded schools.
"I think everyone appreciates that the district is looking at us and recognizing we have quite a lot of students for the building that we have," said Lisa Kuhn, president of the parent-teacher association at Watts, where 739 kids are enrolled. "And we appreciate that the district is trying to make the educational experience for our kids as equivalent for all the other schools."
The proposal would move about 180 students beginning next school year, but incoming fifth-graders would be allowed to stay at their current school if their parents provide transportation, said Laura Devine Johnston, assistant superintendent for elementary teaching and learning.
Roughly 100 students would move from Watts to Owen, Young or Kendall, and about 80 would move from Brooks to Young, providing relief for the overfilled buildings.
But the change doesn't come as good news for residents of the Brittany Springs apartment complex or the Carrolwood subdivision in Naperville, parents said.
Students from these areas are slated to be diverted from the nearby May Watts Elementary next year and sent to Owen about 2.5 miles away.
Watts last fall won a National Blue Ribbon for educational excellence, becoming the third elementary school in District 204 to achieve the recognition after White Eagle and Fry.
Parents praise the teachers who work with their kids and say it would be tough to leave that environment.
"People move into subdivisions so that they go to a certain school," Kuhn said. "For families that chose that subdivision because their kids were able to go to May Watts, that will be a hard pill to swallow."
Parents also are questioning how the district chose the subdivisions it aims to move. Watts PTA member Bridget McKernan called the choices "puzzling."
"Why Carrolwood and Brittany Springs?" McKernan said. "These developments are some of the closest to our school."
Students from the Metro 59 apartments, Union Square townhouses and Station Boulevard apartments, all of which are under construction in Aurora, also are proposed to move from Watts to Young or Kendall elementary schools.
To lower the population at Brooks, which has 816 students, residents of the Ashton Pointe subdivision in Aurora are to be moved to Young Elementary.
Administrators said they aimed to affect the fewest students with the proposed changes, but they recognize the move would create longer bus rides for some kids.
Johnston and Jay Strang, chief school business official, said the proposed boundary changes are meant as a short-term fix to elementary populations until the district can take a broader look at attendance areas after more housing development is finished.
The school board heard the proposal Monday but took no action.
A workshop is to be scheduled before the board's next regular meeting.
The meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Crouse Education Center, 780 Shoreline Drive, is the earliest the board could take a vote.