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Parents ask West board to  rethink split neighborhoods

Making students feel welcome

AURORA — Washington Middle School Principal Gail Wronski and Freeman Elementary Principal Mike Smith are already making plans, should the West Aurora School District shift students around to even-off the student populations in the middle schools.

Wronski said she asked some of her current students, who suggested allowing the new students to follow a Washington Middle School schedule for a day, inviting them to an ice cream social event, and allowing them to sit with Washington students during a lunch period.

Smith said he wants to underscore the similarities between Freeman and Hall with parents: “There are so many things that are similar between both buildings.” he said.

Updated: December 24, 2012 6:44AM

AURORA — Jennifer Wenckus, a mother of two, would like her children to finish school at the same place they started.

Wenckus lives in the Blackberry Trails subdivision, a neighborhood on the far West Side of Aurora where about 30 students would shift schools in an effort to level out the population of the four West Aurora School District middle schools.

Wenckus and two other parents from the small neighborhood addressed the School Board about the switch this week.

“I feel like the students in our area are affected because it looks good on a map,” she said.

A large geographic area where students attend Washington Middle School surrounds the Blackberry Trails neighborhood. The parents asked for the opportunity to grandfather the switch in, and to allow their children to finish out their time at a middle school they have already acclimated themselves with.

“Our kids have an existing group of friends that have allowed them to excel,” parent Amy Grewer said.

West Aurora officials are looking at the impact that allowing some students to stay at their current schools would have on the transportation system. The Blackberry Trails subdivision is south of Galena Boulevard along Hankes Road. There are 17 middle school students there, who the district wants to shift from Herget to Washington middle school. There are also about 12 students the district wants to shift from Hall to Freeman elementary school.

Splitting those students from the same neighborhood into two different schools could have implications on student busing. It could also have implications in other neighborhoods impacted by the boundary changes.

“That sounds like a real mess to me,” School Board member Mark Bradford said.

The shift is part of a larger effort to even the population at the district’s four middle schools. With the shift, each school would have about 700 students. Without the shift, Washington Middle School would have about 520 students next year, while Jefferson and Herget middle schools would have populations topping 800.

The majority of the approximately 200 students involved in the move live along Galena Boulevard on the near West Side.

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