The board approved a plan Monday that changes school boundaries to alleviate overcrowding at and middle schools.
School board President Stuart Bledsoe said the board received and read through some (500) comments submitted about the proposed boundary changes that Supt. John Harper proposed last month.
“The vote may not have come out the way you wanted,” Bledsoe told the audience at . “But we did listen.”
Harper told the board that the first of three proposed boundary plans was necessary to relieve overcrowding at Indian Trail Middle School. In this plan, known as Tier 1, about 111 students from the Lakewood Falls Phase 7 neighborhood in Romeoville would be reassigned from Indian Trail to , a campus that is roughly twice as far from their subdivision.
The plan was needed, Harper said, to accommodate an expected influx of special education students at Indian Trail, which has a lower student capacity than the district’s newer middle schools.
Without moving those students into Heritage Grove, the Indian Trail media center would have to close to create makeshift classroom space; band and choir would have to share the stage for classes; health would be taught in the gym rather than in a classroom; the gym would be used for lunchroom overflow, and each encore class, such as art and music, would have more than 30 students per class.
Transferring Lakewood Falls Phase 7 students gives Indian Trail an adequate number of rooms and keeps encore classes at 27 to 28 students per class. Students from that neighborhood are going to attend Plainfield East High School with the students with whom they attended elementary school.
“Tier 1 is necessary in order to provide Indian Trail with an environment conducive to learning,” Harper said.
The boundary change affecting Indian Trail was approved by a 5-2 vote Monday with board members Michelle Smith and Bledsoe casting the dissenting votes.
“I don’t believe it’s the best option available,” Bledsoe said.
Judy Followell, a resident of Lakewood Falls Phase 7, said the residents commented to the district through its online survey, protested the boundary change at board meetings and contacted Romeoville Mayor John Noak, who offered to meet with school board members. She said she feels the residents’ concerns were not heard.
“We lost a lot of sleep,” Followell said. “It’s been a tiring process. We are very, very disgusted. It seems like nothing we said was taken into consideration. It’s very sad.”
Romeoville Village Clerk Bernice Holloway said the village has received numerous complaints, and parents feel their students have been moved too many times.
Harper’s second recommendation, known at Tier 2, was designed to relieve overcrowding at the Aux Sable Middle School by transferring some students to the lower-enrolled Drauden Point Middle School.
Harper said that implementing this was not essential but recommended.
In the plan, Lakewood on Caton, McKenna Woods, Fon-du-lac, Brookside and Caton Farm Elevator would switch from Aux Sable to Drauden Point Middle School, reducing the enrollment at Aux Sable from 1,217 to 1,100 students while increasing the enrollment at Drauden Point from 862 to 979 students.
The optimal capacity for the newer middle schools – in which each room is used for its intended purpose – is about 950 students.
This boundary change passed by a 6-1 vote, with Bledsoe casting the sole “no” vote.
After he voted, he said that since this plan was not essential, he didn’t want students transferring if it wasn’t necessary.
The district administration created a third option to reduce the number of students at John F. Kennedy Middle School; however, it did not recommend it because it altered enrollment unnecessarily and significantly impacted the elementary schools in order to preserve the house concept, Harper said.
This option, known as Tier 3, failed by a 1-6 vote.
Smith was the only board member to vote in favor of this plan, saying that housing construction is starting to pick up near John F. Kennedy and the board could be revisiting this boundary change soon.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, school board President Stuart Bledsoe misspoke when he said the district had received 5,000 e-mails on the boundary issue. The correct number is 499.