Dist. 204 votes to redraw elementary boundaries to relieve overcrowding

  • Shirley Christie, whose son attends May Watts Elementary in Naperville, shares concerns about a boundary adjustment that will send him to Owen Elementary next year in a move to address crowding. Christie asked the Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board to vote against the boundary change, but it was approved 6-1.

    Shirley Christie, whose son attends May Watts Elementary in Naperville, shares concerns about a boundary adjustment that will send him to Owen Elementary next year in a move to address crowding. Christie asked the Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board to vote against the boundary change, but it was approved 6-1. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Jennifer Favela, a parent at May Watts Elementary in Naperville, shares a petition her neighbors signed in opposition to a boundary change that the school board in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 approved Tuesday. The change will move about 100 students from May Watts to Owen Elementary to relieve overcrowding.

    Jennifer Favela, a parent at May Watts Elementary in Naperville, shares a petition her neighbors signed in opposition to a boundary change that the school board in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 approved Tuesday. The change will move about 100 students from May Watts to Owen Elementary to relieve overcrowding. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted2/17/2016 5:10 AM

Elementary school boundaries in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 are changing to move about 180 students away from two crowded schools next year.

The school board voted 6-1 to approve the boundary change, which moves about 100 students away from May Watts Elementary in Naperville and shifts about 80 students out of Brooks Elementary in Aurora.

 

School board members said the move will address large student populations at Watts and Brooks, both of which are above the schools' capacities unless art and music spaces are used as regular classrooms. The schools can handle 675 students without a space crunch, but Brooks has 816 and Watts has 739.

"Brooks, in short, is an extremely crowded school and the trend for student counts is up," said parent Andrew Baffes, who encouraged board members to support the change.

Board members and administrators said the boundary adjustment answers the immediate overcrowding concern before the district plans more discussions about boundaries in coming years.

"Yes, this is a short-term solution," board President Lori Price said. "But it's one that is very much needed right now."

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Board member Mark Rising, who voted against the new boundaries, said it's important not only to address elementary issues and provide relief for Brooks and Watts, but also to prepare for how six new developments will affect junior high and high school enrollment.

The effect could be especially pronounced at Metea Valley High School on the district's north side, which Louis Lee, assistant superintendent of high schools, said is projected to be over its 3,000-student capacity by the 2018-19 school year.

"It's an elementary school overcrowding issue at Brooks and Watts, but it's also an issue of new development," Rising said. "We're solving short-term problems but creating additional short- and long-term problems."

The boundary change moves students from the Ashton Pointe subdivision in Aurora to Young Elementary instead of Brooks. It moves students from the Brittany Springs apartment complex and Carrolwood subdivision in Naperville to Owen Elementary instead of Watts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Students living in three areas under construction -- Metro 59 apartments, Union Square townhouses and Station Boulevard apartments in Aurora -- also will switch to Young or Kendall elementary schools instead of Watts.

Three parents with kids who will be affected said they fear the downsides of the move away from schools where their students are well-adjusted.

"Unfortunately we feel we will not receive the same level of education and attention at another school," May Watts parent Jennifer Favela said.

Incoming fifth-graders will be allowed to finish at their current elementary if their parents drive them to school.

Laura Devine Johnston, assistant superintendent for elementary teaching and learning, said staff members will work with parents to ease the transition.

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