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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published July 12, 2018

New boundry talks under way in D86

By Pamela Lannom

After voting June 18 to eliminate the buffer zone between Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South, discussions began Monday of how to determine new attendance areas to better balance enrollment at each of the high schools.
   Hinsdale High School District 86 Board members first considered how to sunset provisions of the buffer zone, which had allowed families who lived in that area to send teens to either high school. Following concerns from audience members about students being forced to switch schools midway through their four years, board member Jennifer Planson assured the crowd that students who started the 2018-19 school year at either Central or South would be allowed to finish there.
   “The board has not and will not move students who have already started high school,” she said.
   Board members were not in agreement about how to handle younger siblings. Keith Chval recommended allowing only those families who will have more than one student in high school at the same time to keep their children at the same school.
   “I would not want to see a family have to be shuttling between two schools,” Chval said.
   Board President Bill Carpenter agreed.
   “I don’t want to see a family have two students at both high schools,” he said.    “Other than that, that’s where I end it. I think we’re defeating the purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
   Planson and board member Kathleen Hirsman agreed with Chval and Carpenter.
   Kevin Camden offered another opinion.
   “I don’t want to split families, period,” he said. “If you’ve got a student at any grade level at either school now and you have a 1-year-old, the 1-year-old gets to go to the same school.”
   Board members Robin Gonzalez and Nancy Pollak sided with Camden. A special board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, July 18, to vote on phasing in the new attendance boundaries so families will know what to expect. The new boundaries are then slated to be established at the board’s regular meeting Monday, Aug. 6.
   While the primary consideration for attendance will be proximity as stipulated in the June 18 decision, administrators were asked to provide information on other factors that could be taken into account.
   “I think that makes a lot of sense,” Superintendent Bruce Law said. “We’ve heard community members talk about the importance of safety as students got back and forth to school, for example. We can compile that list, bring that list back to the board, make sure it’s vetted and anything on the list is something the board could choose as a secondary criterion.”
   Several audience members spoke at the beginning and end of the meeting about their desire to have the entire buffer zone become part of Hinsdale Central’s attendance area, with safety as a common theme.
   “The Gower buffer zone asks that you keep our kids close and keep our kids safe,” said Robert Blackburn, a resident of the Waterford subdivision in Willowbrook, noting there is a continuous sidewalk from his front door to Hinsdale Central.
   He also suggested that focusing on safety and proximity would protect the board from accusations of favoritism or inequality and encouraged the board to set the new boundaries as soon as possible.
   “By making swift, informed decisions, you give our community the time we need to move past the attendance issue,” he said. “You give us the time to better realize, understand and advocate for the true needs of our students and the schools they attend. You give us the time to band together and to advocate for the referendum that this district so desperately needs.”
   Others suggested an unpopular boundary line decision could result in a lawsuit or a defeated referendum.
   “Do you think this divided community will have united support for the referendum?” one resident asked.



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