SD 230 changes criticized
By Susan DeMar Lafferty email@example.com September 18, 2012 11:10PM
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:21AM
A plan to change school boundaries and balance enrollment at Consolidated High School District 230’s three schools was opposed by most of the 300 residents who attended a public forum Tuesday night at the Center School gym in Orland Park.
Without boundary changes, District 230 Supt. James Gay said curricular and co-curricular offerings at Andrew High School will be “significantly less” because of the school’s declining enrollment. There will be fewer advanced placement and elective courses and fewer students for sports and extracurricular activities, Gay said.
“It’s imperative that we give Andrew students the same opportunities” as those at Sandburg and Stagg high schools, he told the crowd.
School board members said they would make a decision at the Sept. 27 board meeting, but opponents urged them to take more time and consider other options.
District 230 officials propose an optional three-year transition period for the boundary changes that would end with the freshmen class entering school in 2016.
Projections for the 2016-17 school year show 1,807 students at Andrew, 2,314 at Stagg and 3,121 at Sandburg. Current enrollment is 2,135 at Andrew, 2,378 at Stagg and 3,500 at Sandburg.
The biggest changes impact students in Tinley Park School District 146 and those in Palos District 118 who now reside in an “option zone” — an area surrounding Sandburg that’s now technically within Stagg’s boundaries.
District 230 plans to send students at Central Middle School in District 146 to Andrew instead of Sandburg, but the next three incoming classes could continue to go to Sandburg if they choose to during the transition period.
Beyond that, Central students would be assigned to Andrew — an additional 78 to 109 students per year.
Students at Palos Park’s Palos South Middle School who now live in the “option zone” can choose between Stagg and Sandburg and still would have that choice over the next three years. After that, all incoming freshmen would attend Stagg.
Gay said it is “highly likely” that the district’s plan will change once the board considers all the input it receives.
The plan is supported by the District 230 teachers’ association, but 825 people who are now in the Sandburg-Stagg option zone have signed a petition against it. About 40 of them attended Tuesday nght’s meeting, wearing yellow shirts and waving yellow “keep the option” signs during the two-hour session.
Some of the parents in that area said the number of students affected by having to attend Stagg is not significant, but the impact on their lives would be.
Students who now walk to Sandburg would have a 45-minute bus ride to Stagg, the parents said, adding that their property value would decline if they were in the Stagg attendance zone. Proximity and a sense of community are key issues for them, they said.
Some parents in District 146 also opposed the plan, saying they would prefer making their area a permanent option zone between Andrew and Sandburg rather than District 230’s proposal.
Denis Ryan, a District 146 school board member, urged the District 230 board to take more time and consider all the factors involved before deciding.
Kirby District 140 Supt. Michael Byrne said “changing the boundaries is the way to go.” His students feed into Andrew, and he stressed the importance of not reducing programs for kids.
“Do the right thing and make the hard decisions,” Byrne told the District 230 board.
Other options suggested by those in the audience included rezoning other parts of District 230, including a Sandburg area that’s closer to Andrew, and making sure that all children in a family could go to the same high school.
Gay said the main goal of the three-year transition period is to minimize the impact on families.
District 230 also is accepting input via emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.