Boundary Committee Presents Plan to School Board

Hundreds of parents turn out to hear committee proposal.

District 308 administrators are touting that only about 5.5 percent of the district's 17,200 students will be affected by the new boundaries presented Monday night to the School Board.

That was of little comfort to parents of Homestead Elementary and Wolf's Crossing Elementary school students, who again turned out to voice their protest to the shift of their junior high from Bednarcik to the soon-to-be-opened Murphy Junior High in Plainfield. Jeff Craig, principal at and a boundary committee facilitator, presented the committee’s proposal to the board as hundreds of parents listened for clues as to what final decision would be made.

The board is set to vote on the new boundaries at its Feb. 27 meeting, at which it will take another round of public comment on the issue.

The recommendation to move 328 Homestead students to Murphy for junior high has been met with stiff opposition from parents who say the move would create numerous hardships on students and families. They’ve also argued the distance between their homes and Murphy will cause bus ride times of up two hours total per day.

According to district calculations presented by Director of Business Services Angie Smith, those ride times average 22-29 minutes one way. Smith also said the additional cost of busing those students to Murphy would be about $2,000 annually in fuel costs

The committee also presented another option to the board that would keep Homestead, Wolf’s Crossing and The Wheatlands students at Bednarcik. That proposal, supported by parents from Homestead and Wolf's Crossing, would put Bednarcik at more than 100 students over its ideal 88 percent capacity level of 836 students for 2012-13. Superintendent Dan O’Donnell said it is difficult to put many more students in Bednarcik because its physical class sizes are about 150 square feet smaller than the district’s other junior highs.

Residents of the Prescott Mill subdivision got some welcome news Monday night when it was revealed that their students likely will remain at Churchill Elementary and Plank Junior High schools. They had originally been slated to move to Grande Park Elementary and Murphy in Plainfield.

"That was one recommendation where I just looked at it and saw this would only gain us one or two sections at Churchill, and we couldn't justify that," O'Donnell said. "In the next three or four years we're going to need to look at moving three or four sections from Churchill."

What that move will mean to the student population at Churchill, which is also nearing its maximum capacity, remains to be seen. Parents of special needs students at Churchill addressed the board Monday, saying removing those programs from the school would be a detriment to those students and the entire student population.

The current boundary proposal shows Churchill’s two special program units staying at the school. John Petzke, the district's executive director of technology, told the board that with the current enrollment and those programs remaining, classes like art and music could be forced onto a cart and other special programs will continue to meet in the building’s hallways in specially designed pods.

Board members will spend the next two weeks analyzing further data provided by administrators and have asked for additional information on the history of special program locations in the district and kindergarten enrollment numbers.

The next meeting will also take place in the auditorium at OEHS to accommodate a large crowd. It is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Feb. 27.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correctly reflect the make-up of Homestead students that are proposed to be moved to Murphy for junior high. 

Fam February 14, 2012 at 10:14 PM
The numbers are WRONG because there are not 328 fifth graders at Homestead.
Steven Jack (Editor) February 14, 2012 at 10:20 PM
MAM, You're right. I've corrected that. Thanks for pointing that out!
Mom of 2 February 14, 2012 at 11:24 PM
How many Jr highs and Elementary schools are there now?
Lisa Udy February 14, 2012 at 11:34 PM
There are 13 elementary schools and five junior highs (including the new one, Murphy)
Jane Enviere February 15, 2012 at 04:10 AM
If they are defining "affecting" as meaning that only 5.5% of students will be relocated, I disagree. My children may not be changing schools, but they will be affected by what I expect to be an increased class size. I expect their teachers to be affected by having to manage even more than the 25 to 27 kids in a class that they already have. You will never make everyone happy, but the more direct and honest you are, the more likely you are to at least hope to maintain overall community support and heal the inevitable wounds that come when you displace children from their schools. It's ridiculous to not openly acknowledge that it seems to defy common sense when you send children 2 towns over (Aurora to Oswego to Plainfield) for junior high when they have been attending the elementary school next door to yet another junior high! It's too bad that there isn't a way to satisfy everyone, but that's obviously impossible. It's also too bad that the district can't manage to communicate in a manner that minimizes the potential for negative feelings. Polarizing the community doesn't serve the schools well either. No matter what their intention - perception is reality. And the perception of many is that this could have been handled differently. Now we deal with the aftermath. Well, until they change it again in a few years.
Vance February 15, 2012 at 08:56 AM
Is anyone else tiring of these people exploiting their kids to read ridiculous comments in an adult forum? This is adult decision making. Just dont see how having kids up there is "making a difference" for the better.
Lisa Udy February 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Jane, I'm curious to see what you think should have been done differently. If you were in charge, how would you handled it?
Vance February 15, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I noticed you are a boundary committee member. I was wondering if you were willing to pubically comment on 1) Homestead's use of exploiting children to sway the Board of Education and Boundary Committee and 2) The arrogance displayed toward Boundary Committee from the Board of Education at the last meeting?
ConcernedFor308 February 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Vance, what good would come out of such a comment? People can draw their own conclusions if they feel these things are true.
SnS February 15, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I agree with Jane. The administration should just state facts and tell the truth. It's not easy to balance out all the factors involved, I understand that. It's a numbers game, you will never make everyone happy. Just don't try to hide behind feel-good warm and caring terms in your charge to the the Boundaries Committee, terms like "Neighborhood Schools", "Stability in Attendance Centers", and "Feeder Systems" if they really aren't that important. I went through all the meetings several years ago during the last big change. Boulder Hill School was split into Thompson (OHS) and Plank (OEHS) junior highs. I pointed out then that they ignored a great deal of their stated criteria in keeping kids together, the response was, if you don't like it, move. So much for the warm fuzzies. I looked at the new boundaries shown Monday night, looks like Boulder Hill is still split into two different high schools. So much for the feeder system and stability for the grade school kids. If stated criteria are relatively meaningless, then why state it as criteria? Let's face it, the decisions have already been spit out by the district computers and most of this is just a way to say that the public had "input" into the decision. The district is going to do what the district wants to do.
Pearl February 15, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I have a few comments. 1. I do not support the new option where Wolf's Crossing and Homestead are not moved and leaving Bednarcik still 100 students over it's ideal capacity. This could only hold for a year or two and we will be right back to this place again. Please everyone think long term. It's best. 2. Please parents, if we are all positive about this move our children will embrace it too, and in the end if the children do great at a new school and are learning, isn't that the goal? The kids see their parents enraged over this and how will they react when they feel they are "forced" to go to a new school? Junior High is scary enough lets talk about the positives of going to a newly opened school with them. 3. Having said that I think any parent should be lucky that we have options to relieve us of overcrowding and one being a new junior high that I'm sure is very up to date technology wise and has bigger classrooms. 4. It really is only 10 minute drive there, you can take routes other than Rt. 30 and they mentioned that bus rides would be around 25 minutes. I doubt the kids that currently go to Bednarcik from the Grand Park area never get to do after school sports or can't get homework done. If so let's have them testify to this. To fully disclose yes, I have kids in this district and yes I live in an area that could be affected and moved to Murphy. I just think we shouldn't scare the kids the way it seems the meetings are going.
Vance February 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Agreed. Which is why I have such a problem with these kids coming in there with signs that have Murphy 'X'd out and parents making their kids read these comments in the public form. Making your kids hate a school they might possibly be attending is detrimental to all children involved and the school itself.
308_Parent February 15, 2012 at 05:17 PM
As for "exploiting" children (wow...that was a negative trigger word!), if you have ever attended a BOE meeting, or even watched one of their videos, you would know that it is not uncommon for children to step up to the microphone to speak on a variety of issues. While I agree that #1 this is an adult decision, #2 listening to multiple children speak in this type of forum is mildly annoying which probably dilutes the intended purpose, and #3 I personally don't want my child up there speaking, especially that late on a school night, it's a free country and if these kids want to talk and the BOE is willing to listen, I say let 'em.
ayar February 15, 2012 at 05:23 PM
We find ourselves in an interesting situation. Thank goodness at least that they aren't considering privatizing schools yet - a losing proposition since it would be geared on profit [read very expensive] and not really educating the kids, which is the goal. It would be nice if the Federal Government started making good on their payments to the States again, and the States in turn started pouring money into Education again. Necessary too in the long run of education, unless we want to see our kids outsourced as a many of us were this decade.
JMH February 15, 2012 at 05:34 PM
If the children want to speak, let them! They are the ones ultimately affected by this! They are discussing this in the hallways at school and the rumors are flying. Let them be involved if they want to. Also, I'm not sure where Pearl gets the drive time at 25 minutes. My son goes to Bednarcik now, is the first stop on his bus, and the current drive time is 20 minutes with all of the stops. The drive to Murphy will double at the least by driving 2 towns away!
Fam February 15, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Vance if you want to talk about "exploiting" children. Then you should also talk about parents from Wolf's Crossing who say their children could walk to school even though it would mean crossing four lanes of Eola Rd, and Heggs Rd which has no crosswalk. Those parents are the parents who are actually putting their kids lives in danger just to justify why they shouldn't be moved from the commuter school of Bednarcik.
Pearl February 15, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I got the bus drive time directly from the article you are commenting to. "According to district calculations presented by Director of Business Services Angie Smith, those ride times average 22-29 minutes one way." And I've driven it and clocked it many times at 7-8 minutes following the speed limit. The reason the children are discussing this in the hallways is from the fear generated from their parents. Please parents, stop fighting and just look at the positives!! Again, if we can get a group of students who currently go to Bednarcik from Grand Park subdivision and say they aren't getting homework done and can't participate in sports because of their bus ride, that would have more of an impact because it would be based on fact rather than speculating.
Jennifer Smith February 15, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Here’s something to consider. Grande Park residents (yes, proud to say I am one) have looked out our windows for 5 years to see a Jr. High go unused. We have had our kids bussed on “dangerous routes” past one school to go to another for years. We have never even tried to get Murphy opened because we all knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. Until now. We are at the point where Bednarcik, while a great school, is seriously overcrowded, and many other schools in the district are very near or over capacity. While the boundary recommendations are not perfect, they do address some of the current issues. It would be impossible to make the necessary changes and still please everyone. I only hope that once a decision is made, the students and parents of Murphy can all come together and work toward making it a great school. It is an opportunity that I hope can be a positive one for all involved.
Jennifer Smith February 15, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Very well said, Pearl, thank you!
308_Parent February 15, 2012 at 07:16 PM
We couldn't agree more, Jennifer! Overcrowding is bad for the entire student body and we are also glad that the board decided to open Murphy after having it sit vacant for so long. Regardless of whether Wolf's Crossing, Homestead or The Wheatlands is sent to Murphy, we are 100% behind making Murphy the best experience for all of the kids, no matter where they live.
Kristina February 15, 2012 at 08:11 PM
i agree I'm a Homestead parent, and have been at the meetings for the last 3 or 4 weeks. i personally don't agree with us being sent down there, but there isn't a day that goes by when we discuss it that I don't tell my 5 th grader that it will be a great school. The only downside is the longer commute. I think that kids have a right to speak and mine has asked to several times. Only because of the meeting times have I said no. Parent exploitation is a bit strong for what is going on.
softballmom February 15, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Cheers Jennifer, Pearl & 308_parents...couldn't agree more. What makes Jennifer's ( & the other parents in Grande Park areas ) situation the last few years of having their kids bussed to Bednarcik passing Murphy everyday, driving 20-25 minutes any less important then all the Homestead parents concerned about it perhaps happening to thier kids next year? With growth comes change, adapt....make it a positive experience for your kids. Some of the comments, posts, posters, etc. we've seen over this entire issue give off the feeling that Murphy is some terrible old school in the middle of a desert island or something. It's technically a brand new school, new equipment, larger classrooms...it's not a prison. I have a daughter at Bednarcik, 7th grade...she hates eating her lunch at 10:30, over crowding in hallways, classrooms & locker rooms now...what will it be like next year if they don't ease the enrollment there? Her and her friends hear positive talk in the hallways on the issue by the way..majority kids are excited about the prospect of attending a new school, the new principal, staff, etc.
John Graff February 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I would remind everyone of the last boundary change, whereby the residents of Farmington Lakes were being moved from Old Post Elementary to Long Beach Elementary. There were loud protests to the change, with members of that community opening voicing their opinion at the School Board meetings. Once the decision was final, the school administration and teachers held an open house, welcoming this neighborhood into the Long Beach familiy. The result was fantastic and the "my child" related comments went away. I would assume that now that Brent Anderson has been appointed as Principal of Murphy Jr High, a similar welcome will be engaged.
jay February 18, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I'm a kid from The Wheatlands and this is all us kids talk about in Bednarcik but, we cant change anything. i enjoy my friends from Homestead and Wolf's Crossing and we should have to make anyone leave but grande park because there right next to murphy.
Patch Reader February 19, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I don't think our kids will have an issue "adjusting" to changing schools. My son has friends from all of the different subdivisions so it's not that, I'm not even worried about the "dangerous drive". My point is...we have to pass two subdivisions AND Bednarcik Jr High to get to Murphy. I've been to Murphy, it's a beautiful facility but anyone who says it's only a 10 minute drive (or whatever number is thrown out there) doesn't take into account other factors. I'm talking about dr's appts, dentist appts, work location, child care issues, sitting in pick-up/drop-off lines, weather etc etc. If I have to get out of my car and pick up my child in the middle of the school day (for whatever reason) it will extend travel time by more than the 10 minutes I keep hearing. The office has to call my child, my child has to gather his/her things, and come down to the office, where s/he is signed out and we are on the way. How long will this take? Then I have an additional 10-12 minutes to get back towards my subdivision & an additional 10-15 minutes it takes to get to the dr or dentist, all of which are east. Bus rides will be longer, I won't get into some of the problems that have occurred. Finally, Grand Park families knew where their kids were going to school when they bought their homes so while I understand why they would want Murphy opened, it does nothing for me or my neighbors but make time a major issue.
oswegoannie February 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
It really bothers me that with all the uproar between the subdivisions close to Murphy, no one is mentioning or publicizing the fact that about 70 current Traughber students are being pushed into Thompson. This has not been written about in the newspapers and it certainly has not been addressed by the school district by means of any correspondence with the parents of the affected students.


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