Why District 118 might change middle school boundaries

 
 
Updated 3/5/2019 3:19 PM
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  • About 120 students from Wauconda Middle School on Slocum Lake Road in Wauconda would move to Matthews Middle School in Island Lake, under a plan recommended by administrators in Wauconda Unit District 118.

      About 120 students from Wauconda Middle School on Slocum Lake Road in Wauconda would move to Matthews Middle School in Island Lake, under a plan recommended by administrators in Wauconda Unit District 118. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Matthews Middle School on Darrell Road in Island Lake will receive an influx of new students under boundary change proposals being considered by the Wauconda Unit District 118 board of education.

      Matthews Middle School on Darrell Road in Island Lake will receive an influx of new students under boundary change proposals being considered by the Wauconda Unit District 118 board of education. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Growing enrollment at Wauconda Middle School is prompting Wauconda Unit District 118 officials to adjust attendance boundaries.

Administrators want to shift between 100 and 150 students from Wauconda Middle to Matthews Middle School in Island Lake. Enrollment at Wauconda Middle has been increasing, while enrollment at Matthews Middle has been dropping.

School board members and administrators will meet Thursday to choose one of several options that have been developed. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at Wauconda High School, 555 N. Main St.

More than 650 students attend Wauconda Middle, Superintendent Daniel Coles said. More than 440 students attend Matthews.

If no changes are made, Wauconda Middle could have about 680 students next year, which would approach its effective capacity of 700 kids, Coles said. Matthews Middle would have about 440 students next year if the boundaries don't change.

Administrators started analyzing the situation last summer and developed 10 boundary options. They looked for solutions that would relieve enrollment at Wauconda Middle, minimize bus route times and transportation costs, minimize staffing costs and best balance the demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds of students at the two schools.

The option administrators recommend would shift about 120 Wauconda Middle students to Matthews.

Some families living in the Symphony Meadows neighborhood in Volo would be affected, as would families in Wauconda's Larkdale neighborhood.

A second option would shift an estimated 111 kids to Matthews and affect three neighborhoods.

A third option would shift 134 students to Matthews and affect four neighborhoods.

More details are in a boundary study that's available at d118.org.

Board member Sam Stein supports the proposal recommended by the administration.

"(It) seems to make the most sense in terms of balancing the enrollment at Wauconda Middle and Matthews Middle School," Stein said. "While I understand that there will be quite a few students and families that are affected by this change, we as a school board need to make decisions that are best for the district in 2019-20 and for the future."

Parents of students who will be eighth-graders at Wauconda Middle next year may opt for their students to remain at that school as long as they tell the district by May 1 and provide transportation to and from school and activities, according to the proposal.

Board President Jonathan Feryance said it's "reasonable" to allow students to remain at Wauconda Middle for that final year before high school.

Approval of a boundary plan is expected at the board's March 21 meeting.

Regardless of which option is selected, Matthews Middle will host an open house April 16 for affected families.

The board last changed middle school attendance boundaries ahead of the 2007-08 term.

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