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Churchill Parents Protesting Boundary Proposals

Parents say their school is overcrowded, and they want some relief.

The District 308 Boundary Committee met for perhaps the final time Tuesday night.

Though only a handful of parents spoke, their numbers perhaps signaled a larger presence of Churchill Elementary School parents at Monday night’s full board meeting. At issue is the decision by Superintendent Dan O’Donnell last week to change the boundary committee’s recommendation to move Churchill students from the Prescott Mill subdivision to Grande Park Elementary School, which would have provided some relief to the school parents say is overcrowded.

O’Donnell said last week that the move was made after realizing the move couldn’t be justified because of the amount of sections that would be opened up at the school. Only one or two sections would be affected and in the next few years, three or four sections will need to be moved to ease overcrowding.

The committee’s original proposal had 49 Prescott Mill students moving from Churchill to Grande Park, along with 28 fifth-graders who would have moved into Murphy Junior High in Plainfield next year.

For their part, Prescott Mill parents have said moving to Grande Park would create a hardship on students who consider Churchill their home school. One parent who attended Tuesday night’s meeting reiterated that Oswego daycares that provide transport to Churchill have said they won’t accommodate Prescott Mill students who might be shipped to Grande Park.

Churchill parents say education will begin to suffer if overcrowding isn’t addressed. Students are already being taught in spaces like hallways, classrooms without windows and a room formerly used by maintenance staff.

“The problem is that we have too many kids in the school and it impacts the quality of education our children receive,” Churchill parent Carole DeMarco said. “Why should we have to sacrifice with our kids being taught in a janitor’s closet?”

DeMarco said she is hoping Churchill parents turnout in large numbers at Monday’s meeting to persuade the board to consider the committee’s original proposal.

“I know my neighbors are fired up,” she said. “We want what’s best for our kids.”

When reached Tuesday night, Board President Bill Walsh, himself a Churchill parent, said he’s heard his neighbors are upset and has responded to several of their emails, but talk of overcrowding is not completely accurate.

“The school has capacity of 750 students. Current enrollment is 706. I don’t see that as overcrowded,” he said.

As for claims that classes are being taught in a janitor’s closet, he said that’s not true either.

“It could have been used as the janitor’s office back when the school was being built up,” he said. “To say that kids are being taught in an 8-by-8 room with a slop sink is not accurate.”

At Tuesday's meeting, Churchill parent Dawn Krapez said the school's library also is not functional 25 percent of the year because it’s used for testing. Walsh said the school librarian travels to individual classrooms with lessons and library books for the students during those times.

A final decision on boundaries could be made as early Monday’s meeting. Walsh said he is still working with O’Donnell to determine the agenda for the meeting. Board members are still processing data, which is updated often, and might not be ready to take their final vote next week, Walsh said.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday in the Oswego East High School Performing Arts Center. 

Lisa Udy February 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Who attacked Mrs. Lofthouse? I only saw comments commending a teacher for dealing with a less than ideal situation.
Alette Anderson February 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
All the comments I have read are commending Mrs. Lofthouse for her lessons and positive handling of overcrowding (i.e. can't use her library for weeks for MAP testing). Overcrowding is the topic which is why it was discussed.
Alette Anderson February 24, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Christina- Our P.O. Box has a suite number, it doesn't make it a suite. That room is very small. In identically built schools like Southbury, it is used by building personnel and not as a classroom. Maybe the fire department should determine how many learners can be in there?... If they are professional, a staff member shouldn't be complaining about their teaching setting, it doesn't mean they 'enjoy' it. I find it difficult to believe that they would rather be in a hallway than in a classroom where sound can be blocked out. However, that is just my opinion of my teaching style.
Alette Anderson February 24, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Just an update. I did email the board regarding the AT room and using it for a meeting. I received an email from Mr. Walsh in an extremely timely manner thanking me for my suggestion. I appreciate a response which is better than the communication I have received from District Student Services which is a 0/3 response.
oswegoannie February 25, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Downtown kids will go to Thompson, not Traughber anymore - something my neighbors were unaware of, even this late in the boundary change game. I agree with Deb - kids who live close to schools should walk to them and not take up space being bused to other schools. We lost being able to walk to old Traughber which was part of the downtown Oswego growing up experience for decades when new Traugber was built. New Traughber is currently 106 kids short of capacity. Why do 70 or so downtown kids need to be pushed out of Traughber? Take the BH kids out of Plank and put them at Thompson. Frees up room at Plank and keeps current students at Traughber.

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