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Board of Education and Boundaries: We Need to Get It Right

Special Board of Education Meeting, September 8, 2012.

District 304's Board met today to address the need for a boundary adjustment for Geneva's elementary schools.  Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler and the Board proposed many preliminary goals, but the overwhelming consensus was: We need to take our time, and we need to do it right. 

In a special meeting Saturday morning, the Board members went over what will be the primary goals for the Board's retreat in November.  The Board reaffirmed their preference for Geneva's elementary schools to remain neighborhood schools, and drew a broad outline of goals that in turn will be focused and prioritized at the retreat. 

Among them:

- Review neighborhood boundaries. Board member Bill Wilson said he would prefer to see this review include natural or obvious boundaries, to avoid the prospect of children from opposite sides of the street or from the same neighborhood attending different schools.

- Review registration deadlines in order that administrations have a better picture earlier of what their enrollment looks like for the upcoming school year. 

- Support the transitional process, should a transition need to be made.  Board member Mary Stith praised the elementary schools as being very proactive in this regard during the last major boundary change. 

- Recheck benchmarks.  Are Geneva's benchmarks appropriate for class size and facilities? Board Vice President Kelly Nowak brought up the fact that Geneva's policies need to be better defined in this regard. She said that policies should be articulated in such a way that there is a plan in place should another "bubble" issue arise, as it did this past summer.  Board member Matt Henry stated that based on feedback he received this summer,  parents prioritize staying in neighborhood schools over class size. 

- Review capacity.  Both Mutchler and Stith were clear in communicating to the Board that seat capacity is different than program capacity, and that both must  be addressed.  Dr. Mutchler gave examples of additional programs that require  space in Geneva schools, such as the Acceleration and Enrichment program, Mid-Valley Special Education, and Speech. 

- Make things equitable across schools as much as possible in regards to educational opportunity. 

- Seek input from the community.

The Board will take the above goals, census reports, the fall housing report and data provided by school administration to their retreat in November and begin working on a plan. 

The Board moved to create a Boundary Advisory Task Force.  Task force members are Mary Stith and Matt Henry. 

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