Are school boundary changes in District 62's future?
Pressed about the implications of a strategic plan that puts an emphasis on "equity," candidates in the Des Plaines Elementary District 62 school board race concede that boundary-change discussions are likely to be coming.
After considerable study, school officials recently developed a strategic plan with five overarching goals.
Among those goals: "Effectively, efficiently and equitably manage the district's facilities and financial resources."
In a joint interview with a representative of the Daily Herald Editorial Board, the candidates largely agreed that while equity involves a number of ingredients, the school boundary maps are among the issues that inevitably will need to be reviewed -- particularly given the disparity in crowding or lack of it between the district's schools.
Incumbent Tina Garrett, appointed to the board in 2017, said she would want to look at all options, including a balanced-calendar school day, before resorting to changes to school boundaries. But she acknowledged that "remapping at some point in most districts just happens."
She added, however, that "we're not at that critical level yet."
Challenger Jeanette Zaura Weller, a middle school teacher in Bensenville Elementary District 2, said she is not well versed enough on the topic to take a position but emphasized that the bottom line is "we need a great learning environment for our children."
She wondered whether busing between classes might be an option.
Another challenger, Kelly Morrissey, an educator in Maine Township High School District 207 who volunteered with District 62's Strategic Action Group, noted that remapping would be a heated issue in the community.
But she added that as a school board member, she would have an obligation to meet student needs so remapping is "an option you need to consider."
In doing so, however, she said, "It's imperative to get the voice of the community," and Garrett agreed, vowing,
"We'd involve the community."
Incumbent Beth Morley, completing her first term, also said the issue needs to be "addressed at the community level."
"I do think remapping is going to be in our future because of the (home) building that hopefully will be in our future," Morley said. "It's definitely something that's going to have to be explored as a viable solution, but there will have to be other things explored, too."
The four candidates are running for three school board seats. The election is April 2.