Glen Ellyn District 89 boundary plan prompts parent backlash
Parents made an emotional plea before Glen Ellyn Elementary District 89 school board members Wednesday night to reconsider a proposal to redraw attendance boundaries.
The crowd in a packed gym at Arbor View Elementary frequently broke into applause as parents wiped away tears and raised concerns about sending 280 students to new schools next fall.
They also took issue with the district publicly releasing only one proposed map of boundary changes instead of presenting alternatives during a forum that lasted more than two hours.
"Shouldn't there be multiple proposals for redistricting considered at the same time instead of this one yes-or-no?" dad Matt Poi asked.
Parents called on the board to postpone a decision on new boundaries to vet other options. Board members will hear a report Saturday morning and could vote on the plan as early as Feb. 13.
"My initial thought is we need more time," board President Mike Nelson conceded.
Superintendent Emily Tammaru called the plan recommended by administrators the "least disruptive." A task force commissioned by the board endorsed new boundaries to address increasing enrollment in the 2,200-student district.
"We see the population going up, and we need to do something about it," said Nelson, who attended the forum with board Vice President Beth Powers.
Roughly 100 kids who live in the International Village apartment complex in Lombard would go from Park View to Arbor View Elementary. About 60 students in the Scottdale community in Wheaton would move from Arbor View to Briar Glen Elementary. And about 10 kids who live in the Baker Hill town homes near Roosevelt Road would move from Westfield to Park View Elementary.
Students headed to fifth grade next year could stay at their current schools if their parents provide transportation.
Arbor View parents expressed concern about the future of the school's tight-knit community in the Valley View neighborhood east of Park Boulevard, where families have well-established relationships with those who live in nearby Scottdale.
The district's current boundaries have remained in place since 1991.
Students from International Village now attend Park View Elementary, about two and a half miles from their complex off Finley Road. Buses or their parents would drive them more than four miles to Arbor View, in the southernmost edge of the district.
"You're putting in another community that's across the district," said Patricia Prindible, co-president of the Arbor View parent-teacher council.
Rahul Uppal, whose family lives in the Baker Hill neighborhood, questioned why the district would send less than a dozen kids from that complex out of Westfield, a school that he says doesn't face space issues.
"There's no reason when you're talking about enrollment and capacity to move kids out of Westfield and to put them somewhere else," he said.
With new boundaries, the district could dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of students who transfer from overcrowded neighborhood schools to ones with room in classrooms.
Some of those kids take the bus from their home to the neighborhood school and then switch to buses bound for their attending school. At the end of the school day, teachers help some of those students pack up and let them go to their buses first while other students finish their last five minutes of instruction.
The board adopted the policy in the 2008-09 school year as enrollment dropped to balance class sizes.
But as enrollment ticked back up, the district has added more so-called administrative transfer students -- there are 97 now -- and bus routes. With no change to boundaries, the district could have 140 such students next fall.
As for overall enrollment, John Kasarda, a consultant hired to study demographics, said the district likely will add about 300 students over the next five years and could potentially add as many as 600.
The board will review the recommendation at 8 a.m. Saturday at Glen Crest Middle School at 725 Sheehan Ave., Glen Ellyn.