District 15 parents raise concerns over proposed boundary changes

 
 
Updated 9/9/2016 6:36 AM
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  • Angela Santoro asks a question during a community meeting held Thursday at Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine. District 15 wants voter approval to borrow $130 million for the construction of two new schools. The district would close its oldest building.

      Angela Santoro asks a question during a community meeting held Thursday at Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine. District 15 wants voter approval to borrow $130 million for the construction of two new schools. The district would close its oldest building. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine Township Elementary District 15 parents and community members listen Thursday evening as Superintendent Scott Thompson makes a presentation on the proposal for two new schools during a community meeting at Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine. About 65 people attended the meeting.

      Palatine Township Elementary District 15 parents and community members listen Thursday evening as Superintendent Scott Thompson makes a presentation on the proposal for two new schools during a community meeting at Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine. About 65 people attended the meeting. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Superintendent Scott Thompson explains the $130 million proposal on Thursday evening in Palatine.

      Superintendent Scott Thompson explains the $130 million proposal on Thursday evening in Palatine. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

About 65 parents and community members gathered at Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine for an informational meeting Thursday evening on Palatine Township Elementary District 15's proposal to build two new schools and close the district's oldest school.

Many parents raised concerns over how the proposed new boundaries would affect District 15's special education programs, athletics and physical education classes.

According to the district's proposal, Jane Addams Elementary School would become a sixth- through eighth-grade STEM academy that any middle school-age students living within the Palatine High School boundaries could attend. Most learning at Jane Addams would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, and the school would not offer athletics or a locker room where students could change for P.E. class. Students would have the opportunity to participate in athletics at Winston Campus Junior High School or Sundling Junior High School, Superintendent Scott Thompson said.

Palatine resident Heather Sawicki raised a concern that not offering after-school athletics at Jane Addams would encourage students to participate only in STEM activities and not sports.

"I don't think our school system is designed to pigeonhole students like that," Sawicki said.

And without being able to change clothes for P.E. class, students going through puberty would have to walk around in sweaty clothes for the rest of the day. "It's a matter of hygiene," Sawicki said.

With school boundaries and the number of students in each school changing in the proposal, the future locations of the district's special education and gifted programs are unclear.

Because the programs are districtwide, they are usually placed in schools that have extra space.

Hoffman Estates resident Barb Lach said her son's special education program has had to be moved before, and she wonders how the new boundaries could affect the programs again.

"There has been discussion but no definitive answer," Thompson said. "The goal is to not move those programs around."

District 15 will hold three informational meetings on the proposal Tuesday -- at Thomas Jefferson School at 6:45 p.m. and at Gray M. Sanborn School and Hunting Ridge School at 7 p.m.

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