Palatine Township District 15 to seek community input on school boundary changes
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 is seeking input from families as the next step in its three-year "Beyond Just Boundaries" project to realign school attendance borders and modernize facilities.
The district is relying on consultants to define priorities and get feedback from residents, as the administration and teachers have been focused on bringing students back into classrooms, Collin Corbett, from district consultant Cor Strategies, told school board members last week.
"We can't neglect the future," he said. "We still need to look toward these (post-COVID-19) challenges our districts face."
Corbett said the "decades-old" boundary lines for the district's 20 schools are insufficient for the community's needs due to population shifts.
"Areas of the community where there was once a dense student population now have very few school-age residents," he said. "Other areas are now bursting with new families and they don't have schools nearby."
The district is focusing on "high-value priorities" that include offering full-day kindergarten at all schools, switching to a middle school model, having students attend schools in or near their neighborhoods, balancing enrollment and allowing groups of students to move from elementary to middle school without breaking up friendships, eliminating the bilingual overlay and offering specialized programs at all schools, using facilities more efficiently, and repairing and restoring old buildings.
Those priorities, established over the past three years, will be presented to the community over the next month through virtual and in-person public engagement sessions, a scientific phone survey and the formation of a community committee.
Virtual, hourlong Zoom webinars are set for 6 and 7:15 p.m. Thursday, March 18, and 6 and 7:15 p.m. Monday, March 29.
Six hourlong in-person sessions, all at the Walter R. Sundling auditorium, 1100 N. Smith St. in Palatine, are set for 6 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6; 6 and 7:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. session in Spanish) Thursday, April 8; and 10 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 10.
To learn more and register for the sessions, visit www.ccsd15.net/BeyondJustBoundaries.
Once feedback is gathered and priorities finalized, the district will present its proposed new boundaries at a special school board meeting April 21.
The idea is to identify the top priorities and readjust boundaries while trying to disrupt as few families as possible, Superintendent Laurie Heinz said.
"The reality is, in order to make some of these changes happen, lines are going to have to move," she said. "If lines didn't have to move, we wouldn't be doing this project."