By Carrie Hruby – Superintendent District 90
O’Fallon School District 90 has formed a committee that is considering possible changes to each school’s boundaries. This Boundary Committee is reviewing data, analyzing various options, and will eventually make recommendations to the Board for their consideration. The committee consists of parents, principals, staff from each building, district administrators, and board members.
There are three main reasons why the committee is considering possible changes now:
1. Seven years ago the district reviewed and modified boundaries for each school. At that time it was determined that, given O’Fallon’s growth, the lines should be revisited in five years. The district is overdue to review school lines and growth capacity.
2. District 90’s elementary schools have unbalanced enrollments. The solution historically has been to freeze a grade level and then transfer some students to another building. While parents have understood the need to do so, it causes disruption for the family. District 90 uses transfer buses that shuttle students from their home school to the school of transfer. Siblings often transfer as well, which can lead to additional discrepancies in class sizes. It’s a difficult problem to solve. District 90 staff members have handled it the best way possible to date, but we are looking for a long term alternative to balancing class sizes.
3. The district’s preschool program has grown exponentially over the past seven years and needs to be included in the committee’s evaluation.
The goal of the boundary committee is to present redistricting/boundary options to the Board before the April meeting. However, if we feel the issue needs additional evaluation, we will defer a recommendation until the spring of 2017. The committee is considering three possible solutions:
1. Keep boundaries and buildings as they are and continue freezing grades and transferring students.
2. Redraw the boundaries for each school to better accommodate recent and future growth of the community.
3. Move to an attendance center approach which would change the grade levels housed at each building. This does not mean that students would move to a different school every year. Rather, students may attend one school from Kindergarten to third grade and then fourth and fifth grades at another school as an example.
This is a very involved process and the committee is examining aspects such as: building capacity, sections per grade level, needs of special education programs, needs of preschool program, bus routes, geography/proximity to the school, intended ages for playground equipment, capacity of common spaces within the building, etc. No decision has been made yet.
The committee appreciates the fear behind any changes such as these. It is our goal to make a recommendation that is best for ALL families and the future of our community. We will continue to share information about our progress. In the end, the staff of District 90 is committed to providing excellent education, a safe environment, and opportunities for its students to become responsible, productive citizens. This will continue to happen regardless of which building students enter each day.