U-46 shies away from boundary changes in wake of bias lawsuit
By Tara Garcia Mathewson
The last time Elgin Area School District U-46 redrew its attendance boundaries, it was slapped with a racial bias lawsuit.
At the core of the 2005 suit were allegations that the district sent black and Latino students to overcrowded schools and bused them farther and more often than their white peers after redrawing boundaries a year earlier.
Since then, U-46 has stayed away from any further boundary changes, ignoring the recommendations of the committee it assigned to monitor enrollment trends. In one case, 2 miles separate two elementary schools — one that is over capacity and one that is just more than half full.
“They’re not able to go about the business of doing what’s best for the kids because they’re fearful of the ramifications of the lawsuit,” said Bev Jaszczurowski, a former member of the enrollment and facilities committee that is made up of parent representatives who serve as the district’s experts on demographic changes. The group has recommended redrawing school boundaries since 2007 based on projections that have historically proven accurate.
In 2010, U-46 Chief of Staff Tony Sanders told committee members that planned boundary changes would have to be delayed at least a year because of financial constraints. Now, though, district spokesman Patrick Mogge says there has not been a need for boundary changes. He pointed to slowed population growth in the district, an increase in student-to-teacher ratios that has stretched the capacity of crowded schools and construction projects that have increased space in existing schools.
Mogge declined to say whether the lawsuit has factored into the district’s decision-making.
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