District 15 officials recommend boundary changes, full-day kindergarten

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials have outlined their Beyond Just Boundaries plan, which includes recommendations for full-day kindergarten, a middle-school model and a redrawing of school attendance boundaries.

"This massive endeavor is to address the variety of needs that we're facing here in District 15, from capacity, to some of our outdated boundary lines, to the overall health of our facilities," Superintendent Laurie Heinz said.

Heinz stressed that this is an early discussion of recommendations, some the school board heard for the first time last week, and the timeline to implement them would be the 2023-24 school year at the earliest.

Using the three destination high schools - Palatine, Fremd and Rolling Meadows - for most students as a guide, the district is proposing to redraw school boundaries to keep groups of students together.

A Boundary Task Force was formed in 2017 to take a look at the boundary lines in terms of the feeder pattern, determining which schools different groups of students will attend from elementary to high school, and capacity issues in the buildings.

The top two priorities identified in a 2018 community survey - having neighborhood schools and alignment of students from elementary to junior high to high school - relate to those feeder patterns.

The current patterns don't keep groups of friends together through their school years, Heinz said. Instead, students at the district's 15 elementary schools can be split up to attend one of four junior high schools, and those groups then can be split up again for high school.

Consultants for the district recently held engagement sessions with the community to further assess priorities. The data showed a top priority was having near-neighborhood schools and a cohesive educational path throughout the students' education, followed by full-day kindergarten, a middle-school model and equal access to all programs and services.

Some programs are not offered at every school, so families and groups of friends can be split up. A student who qualifies for the bilingual program, for example, could end up at a building other than the school closest to home, or the same one siblings attend.

Recommendations include offering the programs at near-neighborhood schools so students are no longer bused elsewhere, sometimes passing closer schools on the ride. The district also recommends keeping the same number of bilingual programs currently offered while allowing students to attend their home schools.

The district also is considering full-day kindergarten. Currently only a half-day program, about 2½ hours a day, is available.

There also is a recommendation to move to a middle-school model. The district currently has students attend elementary school from kindergarten to 6th grade and then transition to a junior high for 7th and 8th grade. By changing to a middle-school model, students would attend elementary school from kindergarten to 5th grade, then middle school from 6th to 8th grade.

"When you only have them for a couple years, it becomes very difficult to make those connections with the kids," Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Principal Larry Sasso said.

The school board will resume discussions of the proposals at their May 12 and June 9 meetings, including the financial implications and funding methods.

For more on the Beyond Just Boundaries plan, visit

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Palatine Township District 15 to seek community input on school boundary changes

Laurie Heinz
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