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Despite Opposition, Dist. 202 Board Approves New School Boundaries

Changes made to even out enrollment in several middle schools, including Indian Trail, Aux Sable, Heritage Grove and Drauden Point.

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.

Colleen Kost April 12, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Are you sure its Lakewood phase 7 thats were we live and they do not go to those schools they go to Richland elementry which goes up to Jr. high?
Jeremy Majeski April 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM
Only the area of Lakewood Falls off of Weber and Renwick go to Richland. There is another area of phase 7 off of Airport that goes to Plainfield schools.
Judy Followell April 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Yes, it's Lakewood Falls Phase 7 homes off of Airport Road. We are now the only subdivision in the entire PSD 202 where the students will have to split from their schoolmates twice. Once after elementary school in order to go to a middle school where our kids will be 100 students in a population of 800, only to split again from those new found friends to attend Plainfield East. In the words of one board member in an email to a resident "no one came up with a better idea"
Betsey April 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM
What would be interesting is to follow up with these students a year after the fact to see how it is going for them.
holeinone April 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM
WOW....here we go again. So easy for the school board to move kids around. Maybe it would be nice if we told the school board they had to change jobs and move their familes every year or so.
Zach April 12, 2011 at 01:24 PM
I changed elementary schools within District 204 in Naperville three times in six years. It didn't impact me negatively. In fact, meeting new friends from other neighborhoods gave me a wider base of friends than the average student at Waubonsie, where we all eventually ended up. I think this may have more to do with the perceived quality of the middle schools than with "protecting childrens' friendships..."
jamie Nleson April 12, 2011 at 02:57 PM
I think Plainfield neds to get their act together when it comes to re-zoning. i went to plainfield schools from 5-12 grades and i went to one school for 5th grade one school for 6th and 7th then a different jr high for 8 and then one school fro freshman year and was transferred to another school sophomore- senior. it is crap that they keep splitting up kids that have gone to school together been friends and plays ports together just to avoid over crowding. if they sent the kids to schools that were closer to their homes they wouldn't have this problem. I lived in lakewood falls and went all teh way to timber ridge middle school and wesmere elemantary school all the ay across town.
Trish Rooney April 13, 2011 at 12:24 AM
I applaud School Board President Stuart Bledsoe for recognizing that there were better options than just the one offered under Tier 1. I attended the school board meeting in March and after Dr. Harper's presentation, I feel that the solutions offered were "reactive" and lacked a thoughtful process. I think that the problem of overcrowding in the Middle Schools should have been anticipated and should have been part of the overall long term plans in district wide growth and enrollments. Dr. Harper and the school administration basically, as Dr. Harper said, looked at a "targeted number" and matched it up to a subdivision that fit that number and unfortunately if fell on the families and children that resdide in Lakewood Falls 7. What a shame that it came down to numbers and consideration for the overall developmental needs of the children and the families were disregarded.
Judy Followell April 13, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Well said Trish!

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