ELMHURST – Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 heard from residents regarding its facilities plans and boundary change proposals during the first of four scheduled community meetings.
Superintendent David Moyer presented on the proposed facilities upgrades and boundary changes to about 70 community members who gathered from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. May 12 at York Community High School, 355 W. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst.
"In order to ensure that students are college, career and life ready upon graduation, we need to recognize that school needs to look different than when it was originally conceived and what most of us in this room experienced," he said. "The new technology that fuels a global economy has significant implications for current and future employment opportunities."
Options range from lessening annual taxes by about $800 for owners of homes valued at $500,000 with a "do nothing" approach of not allocating any additional dollars for maintenance or improvements, all the way to an additional $149 per $500,000 home with a proposed $168.5 million referendum that would include "comprehensive improvements" of district schools, incuding a new Lincoln Elementary School and a new Field Elementary School.
According to the district, Lincoln and Field are in need of substantial upgrades.
Boundary changes also could take place to balance enrollment and class sizes to achieve efficiency and parity. Option A would entail sending 62 Hawthorne Elementary School students to Edison Elementary School, 47 Jackson Elementary School students to Lincoln Elementary School and 88 Lincoln students to Hawthorne, according to the presentation. In Option C, 62 Hawthorne students would be sent to Edison, 64 Jackson students would move to Jefferson Elementary School and 65 Jefferson students would move to Edison. In Option D, 62 Hawthorne students would move to Edison and 62 Jackson students would move to Edison.
A previously proposed Option B has been discarded.
Following the presentation, community members conversed as small groups, responding to topics including which of the several facility plan options they preferred and what the Board of Education should know.
An individual from each table responded to questions to listeners across the room on behalf of their groups following the small group discussions.
Some responded to the presentation with concerns of ensuring students who walk to school or ride the bus will continue to be able to do so. Some people wanted to make sure the facilities plans would be sustainable for at least the next 50 years.
Meredith Vogel, a Jefferson parent, said the money issue was not a factor, but the boundary issue was "probably the biggest thing." Vogel said the impact on middle schools of boundary changes should be considered.
"We also thought there should be additional clarity. If there are vacant classrooms at different elementary schools, I'm not sure that the community understands that," she said. "I think there needs to be a lot more clarity and visibility to the community in terms of where there's needs."
The district has invited the entire community to participate in giving feedback on the plans, including community members who do not have students attending district schools.
The next Board of Education meeting is May 22.
To learn about the facilities plans and boundary changes Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 has proposed, visit elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan.
There will be two more community meetings: one from 7 to 9 p.m. May 23 at Bryan Middle School, 111 W. Butterfield Road, Elmhurst, and another from 7 to 9 p.m. May 30 at Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst.
School-specific informational sessions are planned for 6:15 p.m. May 23 at Bryan, 8:30 a.m. May 24 at Emerson Elementary School, 400 West Ave., Elmhurst, and 6:15 p.m. May 30 at Sandburg.
This story has been updated from a previous version to correct the date of the school-specific informational session at 8:30 a.m. May 24 at Emerson Elementary School, 400 West Ave., Elmhurst.