SD 230 must balance enrollment
SouthtownStar editorial September 11, 2012 9:34PM
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:39PM
The school board in Consolidated High School District 230 plans to vote Sept. 27 on a plan to realign attendance boundaries to better balance enrollment at the three schools — Andrew in Tinley Park, Sandburg in Orland Park and Stagg in Palos Hills.
Declining enrollment has led to a sharp disparity in the number of students at each school, from about 3,500 at Sandburg this school year to 2,135 at Andrew. Total enrollment is projected to drop by 770 by the 2016-17 school year, according to the district, as people stay in their homes longer, mostly because of the poor housing market.
Quite a change from the enrollment boom envisioned in the late ‘90s that was used to justify a $146 million renovation project at all three schools, one that went $28 million overbudget and was done a year behind schedule.
District 230 Supt. James Gay said if the boundaries aren’t altered, Sandburg’s enrollment will decline to about 3,120 and Andrew’s to 1,800 for the 2016-17 school year. Not an ideal situation.
The current plan may not be the best, but it’s clear something must be done to more evenly distribute students among the three schools. If a school is much smaller than another, it might not be able to offer some specialized courses or extracurricular activities.
Gay’s proposal is to switch students at Central Middle School in Tinley Park and Palos South Middle School in Palos Park to Andrew and Stagg, respectively, over a three-year period. As of 2016-17, all incoming freshmen from the two middle schools would attend Andrew or Stagg.
The school board has set a public hearing for next Tuesday, and, depending upon community feedback, the current plan could be tweaked before the Sept. 27 vote or that vote could be delayed. At least one board member has suggested that District 230 use geography as well as middle schools in setting its attendance zones.
Whatever the final decision, it will make some unhappy, but change is needed to ensure equal opportunity at each school.