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Talk205 Special Report - Boundary Adjustments

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 is evolving in many ways as it seeks to prepare our students for a future we can only imagine. Future Ready is more than a catch phrase. It is a commitment to empowering and equipping our students with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to be college, career and life ready.

Our District is working to deliver future focused curriculum and provide supportive learning environments for all students. In order to do that, we have embarked on a journey to address aging facilities and infuse our schools with the necessary tools to achieve that goal. The Focus 205 community engagement process, which began in 2015, was the first step. Master Facility Plan (MFP) work continues today; click here for more information and a meeting schedule.

Our community has long valued small class sizes and neighborhood schools. Elementary school class size targets are 25 in grades K-2 and 27 in grades 3-5. The current average class size in District 205 is 21.8. Occasional enrollment anomalies mean that class sizes are not consistent; some are below target and others are close to high end of the range. School capacity (percent of space that is being utilized) is another issue in District 205. Some of our buildings are overcrowded; others are operating at nearly full capacity, and some are underutilized. This poses instructional and staffing challenges that may increase as the community of Elmhurst continues to grow.

One potential component of the draft Master Facility Plan is boundary adjustments. The District realizes that any adjustments, even those that impact less than 5% of students, families, and/or houses, will be difficult. The options that have been presented to the Board of Education, and are being shared with the community, are preliminary. This is a work in progress and community feedback will be an important part of the process as we move forward.

Boundary adjustments can provide a long-term solution to overcrowding and student population “bubbles.” When schools are evenly sized and utilization is consistent, it is easier for the District to adhere to class size targets and maintain appropriate staff-to-student ratios. Consistencies like these help all students learn and grow.

D205 hired Cropper GIS in early 2018 to conduct a boundaries study. The primary goals were to increase space to accommodate All Day Kindergarten and balance class sizes across the District. The District asked the Cropper team to identify solutions that would affect the least number of families possible.

Two options (A and B) were presented to the Board on April 10. Both addressed ADK and balancing class sizes.  They also provided potential options for housing students during construction at Lincoln and Field Schools, two of our oldest buildings at 103 and 87 years old, respectively.

In response to feedback from the Board of Education and parents, the administration asked Cropper to see if there were alternative solutions that could meet the criteria and better preserve natural barriers such as train tracks and major roads. Two additional options (C and D) were developed and presented to the Board on May 8. Option D impacts the fewest students (3.6%), does not require busing students who currently walk, preserves natural barriers and does not send any students away from new construction, but also does not preserve contiguous boundaries.

Developing these additional options emphasizes the importance of community feedback. The plans remain a work in progress. No decisions have been made, nor will any changes be made in the immediate future. The Board will consider how it wants to move forward with the boundary discussion at its May 22 meeting. Options A, C and D are linked below.

Boundary adjustments would only be considered in a Master Facilities Plan that includes All Day Kindergarten. The District is committed to ensuring that current students will not be impacted by boundary adjustments and will be developing “grandfathering” provisions to minimize the impact on siblings and families. As with the entire process, we will be seeking community input on this portion of the plan as well. Our goal is to minimize the impact on individual families and achieve the goals outlined above.

Four community meetings have been scheduled. Draft plans, budgets, and potential boundary adjustments will be presented. The presentations will be followed by small group discussions. All attendees will have the opportunity to provide additional feedback via an electronic exit survey. Meeting dates:

  • Monday, May 14, 2018, 7 pm @ Churchville Middle School
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7 pm @ Bryan Middle School
  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 7 pm @, Sandburg Middle School

For additional information related to the development of the proposed MFP, please visit www.elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan.

Posted by: Melea Smith, District Admin, Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Published:5/12/18
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