O’FALLON – As classes at local schools are about to resume, some O’Fallon families are struggling to understand why school officials can’t stick to what was believed to be a one-year resolution in a boundary snafu.
Scott Albritton is among four families that reside on Carnegie Knolls Road, a road attached to the subdivision Parcs of Arbor Green, and is frustrated that as of now his child is being required to unenroll from Fulton Jr. High and re-enroll at James Arthur Middle School.
Earlier this month at a District 90 Board of Education meeting, it was announced by Superintendent Carrie Hruby that four students who reside on Carnegie Knolls Road were mistakenly registered and should have been attending Central District 104 schools based on the zoning of the neighborhood.
At the meeting, Hruby said an intergovernmental agreement was made between the two districts to allow the four students to continue to attend District 90 schools for the 2018-19 school year.
According to Albritton, it came as a “complete surprise” when Central District 104 sent out a letter on July 30 stating that these four students are to attend Central District 104 schools – which contradicts the earlier agreement.
Hruby said that District 90 received a letter from Central District 104 last Wednesday that stated there was not an agreement due to the fact that District 90 agreed allow the students to attend its schools for the 2018-19 school year and Central 104 agreed to allow the students to attend District 90 through their eighth grade years.
“I guess originally what happened was District 104 passed their version of the bill which allowed all four kids to attend District 90 schools throughout their academic career until they all start at OTHS (O’Fallon Township High School),” Albritton said.
Albritton said that the agreement was then amended by District 90 to say the students would attend the district’s schools for one school year so that “parents have time to get this issue fixed in the long term for everybody and not just these four kids.”
“We were told that it was all good to go and to register our kids in District 90,” Albritton said.
Central District 104 Superintendent Dawn Elser said that the district had approved the original agreement with the longer terms on Monday, July 9.
“District 90 changed the terms of the Intergovernmental Agreement and approved the agreement at their board meeting in July,” Elser said. “We were informed by our attorney that no Intergovernmental Agreement exists since the language in the agreements that were approved by both school boards is not consistent.”
Elser did not respond to follow-up questions regarding if she believes her board of education will take up a newly revised version and adopt it prior to the start of the school year.
“My opinion is that it comes down to the taxing of the houses,” Albritton said.
Albritton said that if you look at a map of Parcs of Arbor Green – there are two cul-de-sacs – Carnegie Knolls and Shady Parc Court – and there are a total of 28 homes between them.
“(Central District) 104 used to split right down the middle of that neighborhood – they moved it to kind of re-align it but then the cul-de-sac wasn’t completed so it just kind of bordered the districts,” Albritton said.
Albritton said that the few students that reside in Shady Parc Court attend private school and aren’t affected by the public school boundary dispute.
“(Central District) 104 still collects their taxes – and all the homes in Carnegie Knolls cul-de-sac, which is 14 homes – all their taxes go to 104,” he said.
Albritton said that with the Intergovernmental Agreement, the four students would be able to attend District 90, while Central District 104 “would still collect tax (dollars).”
“If we petition to move the District 90 school zone to encompass all Parcs of Arbor Green – which is what the residents of Carnegie Knolls would like to happen – it doesn’t make sense to have a kid that lives one street over to go to a completely different school, which is actually further away then the school nearest to our community,” Albritton said.
Albritton said that Fulton Jr. High, a District 90 school, is approximately 1.2 miles away from his home on Carnegie Knolls Road, whereas Joseph Arthur Middle School is approximately two and a half miles.
“When I originally moved – our kids ended up going to District 90 schools,” he said.
“My son has been going to these school for two years and now all of a sudden they are telling us to move schools because of a boundary issue,” Albritton said. “We tried to work with both of the boards to get this fixed because this was no fault of any parent – this was their doing.”
Albritton’s son will be going into his eighth grade year – at what would have been Fulton Jr. High.
“He’s facing the prospect of going to a school where he knows no one,” he said.
According to Hruby, “Per the law, the only way District 90 can enroll the students is with a tuition status if the resolution is not in place.”
Albritton said that the “worst case scenario” is sending his son to Fulton Jr. High on a tuition basis, which he said would be $8,400 for the school year.
“It’s really not fair to ask us to have to pay when we were already promised that the issue was done and solved,” he said.
Albritton said that his next step in the boundary dispute is to “seek legal council.”
“The long term plan was to eventually encompass all of the Parcs of Arbor Green community into District 90 – so I reached out to HOA today and asked if they were willing to take on that issue with city council,” he said.