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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. 

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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