One of the hot button issues in O’Fallon right now revolves around District 90’s plans to reconfigure school boundaries and make Marie Schaefer a fifth grade center. Up front I want to say that I have no dog in this fight and am merely writing my thoughts and observations.
I attended the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night where a great number of parents expressed a variety of thoughts and opinions. The common themes were they weren’t pleased with the proposed map and they didn’t like the idea of their kids having to make new friends over and over again at different schools so frequently. I completely understand wanting to provide a stable educational experience for your child, where they get to know a single group of peers and teachers. I also understand wanting to send your child to a close school so they don’t have to be on a bus long. Finally, I understand that schools will have test scores that vary from school to school and that parents want only the best for their child.
With all that said, District 90 as a whole is a great school district with excellent schools. While some may be a bit older than others, they are all superior to a number of schools, not just in Illinois but in the Metro-East area. Everyone needs to realize that no matter where they end up sending their child, as long as its in District 90 they’ll be taught well.
Now, its obvious that there are some real concerns about the proposed plan. Maybe the District and Board of Education are looking at different plans, maybe they’re not. But, in an effort to be helpful, I’m proposing an idea here.
It was mentioned at the meeting that the junior high schools are not involved in this plan, but that they are facing some crowding issues of their own. Perhaps the solution, that would also help the junior high schools, would be to make junior high encompass fifth through eighth grade and make Marie Schaefer a junior high school along with Fulton and Carriel. I’m not sure what the logistics needed are to make that happen. Maybe it would require more teachers, I don’t know. But it would help alleviate the crowding issues at the junior high schools and allow for redistricting at the elementary school level.
Additionally, it would allow students to theoretically keep the same friends from elementary school. A kid that goes to Evans and Hinchcliffe could go to Marie Schaefer and still be with the same group of kids. Under the proposed fifth grade center plan, kids from the elementary schools would make friends there, then all come together in a fifth grade center, and then get split apart to the two junior high schools. For some kids, its the transition to junior high that will see them split from the group they’ve known since kindergarten and have to make entirely new friends.
Now, again, I’m no expert. I’m just making a suggestion and attempting to be productive in the conversation. What ideas do you have for District 90? Aside from building a new school, how do you think the District can accomplish its goals given the resources it currently has? Send your ideas to Nick@OFallonWeekly.com.