Planning Elementary Zones

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Right now, Rockford school leaders say the district's elementary attendance zones are outdated and unbalanced. That means kids often travel long distances to school, and don't experience the stability neighborhood schools are supposed to provide. So now it's time to redraw the lines and rethink educational programs to best serve Rockford's youngest students.
Susan Haney-Bauer, committee co-chair and Montessori School principal says, "We have a very serious task ahead of us that impacts a lot of children, not only now but in the future."
That's why district leaders want the input of community members, parents and school employees from all across the district on the Elementary Zone Committee. The co-chairs divided the committee into three sub-groups. One is in charge of looking at the way grades are configured in elementary schools. They'll consider things like setting up kindergarten and pre-K only centers. Another sub-committee will deal with how specialized programs like Kappa and Gifted will fit in the new system. The last group will examine demographics across the district to make sure the zones are fair and equitable once the new lines are drawn up. That was the number one concern for many at the meeting.
"The choice of who's going to be on the committees and making sure that there's a broad diversity from everywhere in rockford, that's going to be the key," says Rockford parent Jay Ware.
"They need to have just a whole mix, your special ed. parents, you gotta have the minority mix," says another parent, Monica Primm.
The committe hopes to make recommendations to the school board in September. The new system could be in place as soon as 2008.
There will be another meeting monday at 6:30 in Room 207 of the Rockford Schools Administration Building at 201 S. Madison St. Committee chairs will decide who will serve on the sub-comittees after that meeting. The groups will meet on Tuesday evenings starting July 24.

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