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Officials postpone vote on boundary changes amid opposition

The New Lenox School District 122 Board of Education decided to delay a vote on proposed boundary changes until November that could increase enrollment numbers at Tyler and Bentley schools.

Subdivisions that could be impacted by the board’s decision include residents of south of Francis Road, north of Route 30 and east of Schoolhouse Road and nearest to Tyler School.

“I feel strongly that this recommendation that we’re making really does give you a long window,” Superintendent Peggy Manville said. “I feel like you’ll be solid there. Even though there is a ton of growth, doing this would free up space in [the] Spencer [campus] that you would be able to fill that in without having move kids around for a long, long time.”

This year, Tyler and Bentley schools have 668 students enrolled in classes. The Spencer campus has 952 children, to date.

The area near Spencer has shown more growth over time, whereas the region surrounding Tyler and Bentley has not trended upward to the same effect.

Projections for the 2018-2019 academic year without the boundary changes show enrollment numbers at the two schools amounting to 642, which is the lowest of the D122 campuses.

District policy stipulates that its superintendent is to review boundary lines annually and recommend any changes to the Board of Education.

“We’ve watched over the last few years where Tyler/Bentley’s enrollment has gone down, and we’ve sat on that,” Manville said. “It was always the hope that it would get healthy again.”

During the public comments section, several residents of the district addressed the board.

Jim Boswell, of New Lenox, said the reason he decided to approach the board was because of the district’s intent to “tweak” its boundaries.

“If you think that this is just a tweak, look at the number of parents who came to the meeting tonight that were concerned about the nature of this decision,” he said.

Boswell has three children and is a resident of the Hibernia Estates subdivision.

“The board minutes, which is the primary way the board communicates with the community, reflect very little information about the process the administration was taking to come to this conclusion,” he said. “It was described to me that New Lenox adjusted boundaries all the time. As far as I’m aware, the last time entire neighborhoods were moved was when the Spencer campus was built over 10 years ago.”

Boswell wants the Board of Education to work with Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 to conduct a more accurate study.

Manville acknowledged the concerns that newer residents may have.

“To us who have been here [for years,] when I say tweak, it feels like a tweak to us because we’re just really moving a couple subdivisions and not doing major boundary changes,” she said. “With that said, do I believe that down the road? Yes, you’re probably going to have to as—whether it’s this board or another board, [and] it will certainly be a different superintendent at the time—you’ll probably have to a do a major district-wide committee group and look at all different options depending on where the growth is going.”

Manville questioned if it is the district’s philosophy to let two of its schools be a lot smaller or not and said part of the proposal is to come up with a viable solution to even out the enrollment numbers in the buildings.

The district’s original goal was to keep residents of the Hibernia Estates subdivision in Tyler and Bentley schools. History shows, however, that students were swung into Spencer School due to the numbers.

The district intends to even out schools for at least a period of five years and not have to move children around as much.

D122 officials decided to postpone their vote on proposed boundary changes until November to try to increase enrollment at Tyler and Bentley schools.

Round it up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Oct. 18 regular meeting of the New Lenox School District 122 Board of Education:

  • The first three months of fiscal year 2018 have proceeded according to plan, with the district receiving and anticipating its third- and fourth-quarter mandated categorical payments for the previous fiscal year in August and December. Officials expect to get the fiscal year 2018 first-quarter state mandated categorical payment in the spring of 2018, plus all 22 fiscal year 2018 general state aid payments.

  • Officials took a moment to review the district’s E-Rate compliance statement, which outlines a set of guidelines the board must acknowledge with regard to internet safety policies, rules and procedures. In doing so, D122 will receive federal funding at a 40 percent level through the E-Rate program to pay for certain data services.

  • The board authorized overnight/200-mile radius field trips for eighth-graders who will travel to Washington, D.C. in March 2018. Board policy stipulates that all field trips must have superintendent or designee’s approval, unless that trip extends overnight or beyond a 200-mile radius of the school, in which case authorization is warranted by the Board of Education.

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