School District 304 staff recommended the addition of a third section for Mill Creek's second grade.
As of July 16, enrollment would have put the two sections at 29 and 28 students per class, according to a memo from Craig Collins, assistant superintendent personnel services. With the addition of a teaching position, the three sections would have 19 students apiece.
A number of Mill Creek parents spoke in favor of adding the staff, acknowledging that redistricting would be the likely longterm solution to some of the enrollment distribution issues facing the district.
"Our kids will be fine, but we don’t want kids to be fine—we want them to be phenomenal," one parent said. "The inconvenience of sending two kids to two different schools is crazy. It’s just not a reasonable thing to do. If we believe 29 students is too many for kindergarten, we need to do the same thing for second grade."
A parent of a student with an Individual Education Program said stability is especially important for students with special needs.
"We cannot uproot these kids and move them around," she said. "They’re too young, and they have (a program) set in motion for them, especially for children with IEPs. I’m not sure why there’s even that question. I feel like there’s a lot of shuffling around that’s not needed."
Other parents noted that Cub Scout troops could be split, and parent volunteers could be pulled in too many directions if one child goes to Mill Creek and another is bussed to one of Geneva's other elementary schools.
"I don't believe that moving the children for one year is the answer," she said.
The board voted 6-0 to create the third section and authorize administrators to begin the hiring process. School Board member Bill Wilson was absent.
Parents expressed some concern about the short amount of time left to hire and train a new teacher, as well as time to notify parents regarding which teacher's classroom his or her student will land.
Collins assured parents that hiring teachers this late in the summer is standard practice for every school district and that the determination of class organization would be delayed at most by one week.
"It's not unusual for a School District the size of Geneva to hire several teachers right before the beginning of the school year," he said. "We're going to err on the side of conservative, given the fact that enrollment numbers tend to fluctuate. It would be great to have them (new teachers) on board in June or July, but given the uncertainty, we have to wait."
In other action, the board took a first look at the priminary budget for the Education Fund, which will be a subject of a formal public hearing at a later date.
School Board President Mark Grosso said the board also will modify its decision-making timeline regarding the potential demolition of the Coultrap facility. Grosso said more information on that topic would be coming soon.
Grosso also suggested his fellow board members consider adding two citizens to the School Board's Finance Committee.