Local News

With new school under construction, Algonquin District 300 mulls new boundary options

Gary D. Wright and Hampshire Elementary could be over capacity in the next few years, board members were told

Both Gary D. Wright and Hampshire Elementary Schools are projected to exceed capacity in the next few years, according to data from Algonquin-based District 300.

With this in mind, a committee tasked with creating boundaries for a new elementary school the district is building in Hampshire is focused on changing the two schools’ boundaries to address these capacity concerns, Zach Worthen, who is working with the district to help determine boundaries, said at a board meeting Tuesday.

Worthen’s remarks came as the school board heard about different boundary scenarios for the new elementary school that has yet to be named. The new school is expected to open in August 2022.

When it comes to the new elementary school’s boundaries, committee members prioritized factors such as whether the boundary allow students to be safe walking and traveling in it, the boundary’s ethnic and racial diversity, existing school capacity and future development in the area, Worthen said.

Right now, Worthen said, the area being slated for boundary changes has at least six new planned residential developments.

Cambridge Lakes Charter Schools is included within the boundaries, as well.

One boundary possibility Worthen showed would be a “blank slate” with no reliance on historical boundaries. This would split the Cambridge Lakes community and current Hampshire Elementary School boundary in half. While Worthen said there are some cons to this, such as the community disruption, he also said there would be more flexibility for Hampshire Elementary to hone in on its target enrollment.

Under this boundary scenario, 142 Hampshire Elementary students and 283 Wright Elementary students would be moved out of their current elementary school boundary.

Another boundary option presented revolved around building a smaller new school. Superintendent Susan Harkin said at the meeting, in response to a question from a board member, that District 300 already has decided to build a larger school, so this option is moot.

In another scenario with a larger school, Worthen showed the southeast section of Gary D Wright would be moved into the new school boundary. This would allow for less growth at the new school, but ensure that the boundary at Wright is able to retain capacity for a new development in the area. Under that plan, 129 Hampshire Elementary students and 509 other elementary students would be pushed out of their current school boundary.

The final option Worthen showed was a “non-contiguous” boundary, meaning one of the schools would not be located within its physical boundary. For this, the Gary D. Wright building would be located in the new school boundary, but would not be contained in its own neighborhood boundary, or enclave.

This would allow the school district to address some of the geographic and physical limitations posed by some of the other scenarios, Worthen said. The number of Hampshire Elementary students who would be moved out of their boundary in this case is 129, while 479 Wright Elementary students’ boundaries would change.

As the district looked at different boundary options, Harkin said, it decided to create a dual-language program at the new elementary school. The dual-language program would be phased in over time and provide this service to the western portion of the district, she said.

One board member asked if the boundary committees had taken into account the potential closure of Cambridge Lakes Charter Schools. Worthen said they had a game plan to address the closure with other boundary changes if it eventually happens. However, boundary scenarios presented Tuesday were based on the charter school remaining open, Worthen said.

This is not the last time the district will discuss boundary scenarios. Other possibilities will be brought to the board in the future as District 300 considers more options, Harkin said.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.