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Highland School parents raise concerns over boundary changes

DOWNERS GROVE – A group of Highland Elementary School parents reiterated their opposition to potential attendance boundary changes during the Sept. 11 Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Board of Education meeting.

About 10 parents attended the meeting, which included a presentation on districtwide enrollment trends by Superintendent Kari Cremascoli.

Board members agreed to discuss the matter in depth at the Oct. 11 meeting. That meeting is expected to be at one of the district’s schools.

Highland parent Steve Smetana said changing attendance boundaries is a short-term fix, especially because it's difficult to gauge enrollment patterns over several years.

“Having [the children] go to another school would be difficult for them,” said Smetana, whose two daughters attend Highland. “I can’t think of any good reason to make kids go to another school.”

Highland parent Laura Legeare agreed and asked the board to consider all possibilities before redrawing attendance boundaries.

“It really breaks my heart to change schools,” she said.

Tia Nash said the size of her daughter’s classes provides a snapshot of recent growth at Highland, 3935 Highland Ave. The class size has increased from 21 to 30 students in two years, she said.

Concerns over boundary changes were first raised last year when a demographer’s study indicated the student population at Highland was expected to grow rapidly. Nearby Belle Aire School, 3935 Belle Aire Lane, also is expected to grow, though not as quickly as Highland. However, Belle Aire has been underutilized and has unused space.

In February, officials indicated if the Highland population continues to grow at a quick pace, the district would need to consider options to prevent overcrowding. Cremascoli said the district would consider boundary changes if growth trends continued in future years.

However, district officials have said solutions would not be limited to boundary changes.

“I think the administrative team would like to explore what the options might be,” Cremascoli said. "We really need to think about what problem we're trying to solve. There is no perfect boundary modification. There really isn't a way to redistrict to keep enrollment even."

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