Solving Overcrowding at Belvidere H.S.

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Belvidere School District residents had a chance to voice their concerns Monday night about the district's proposal to split schedules for high school students. The district is hoping the plan will solve overcrowding problems.

The proposed plan would have underclassmen starting late and ending late. Upperclassmen would start their day early, but get out early. Sounds easy, but parents say issues like busing could get complicated.

The problem is simple: Belvidere High School is overcrowded. Functional capacity is about 2,100 students. Next year, enrollment is expected to reach 2,300 students.

"Sometimes it takes 15 min to get around a corner," said Belvidere High School Junior, Jacob Temple.

"It's definitely over crowded, we already have to share lockers," said Tabitha Hoyt, a junior at Belvidere High School.

But the solution to split schedules still has some kinks to be worked out. Parents say they're concerned about busing and athletics, especially with underclassmen. Their last class won't end until 4 p.m.

"By the time he gets home on the bus it'll probably be about 5:30 at night. It takes about an hour to get home now," said Jim Wroblewski, parent of an incoming freshman.

"Four o'clock, will interfere with sports. They already have to miss an hour of classes now for away games," said Melanie Dewan, parent of a current freshman.

The Belvidere School Superintendent, Don Schlomann, says they considered other options such as year-round school, modular classrooms, and moving some students to another building, but ultimately split schedules was the best solution.

"Our community has grown a lot, we looked at other alternatives, but we think this is the least disruptive option," said Schlomann.

Another option to the overcrowding problem is building a new school and the superintendent and principal say there's a possibility a referendum in the spring of 2004 would ask residents for a new school. Parents say that's something they would support.