Rami Jreisat thinks its unfair that certain students bound for Consolidated High School District 230 will keep the ability to choose between high school while others won't.
The 42-year-old resident of the Catilina neighborhood in Orland Park counts his three children currently attending Arnold W. Kruse Education Center among those who lost the benefit of an "option zone," which allowed students in two areas to choose between two D230 high schools. In fact, the reason his family moved to Orland Park was to provide his children the opportunity to attend Orland schools.
"We're being pushed out," Jreisat said. "They took away our choice."
District 230 board members unanimously voted in favor of a plan that maintains a zone where Palos Community Consolidated School District 118 students living near Carl Sandburg High School can choose between Sandburg and Amos Alonzo Stagg High School.
Students currently moving through Central Middle School will keep the choice between Andrew and Carl Sandburg High School. But within three years, all Central students—Jreisat's children, who all will eventually attend that middle school after leaving Kruse—will only have Victor J. Andrew High School in their future. Current 6th, 7th and 8th-grade students at Central will still have the high school choice, but that will end by the time current 5th graders are ready for high school.
The change comes with a grandfather clause pertaining to families with District 146 students who attended Sandburg. Those students’ siblings will also have the same choice between Sandburg and Andrew—until the youngest sibling has graduated.
What this means is that the burden of fulfilling the District 230’s need for spreading out enrollment will fall on District 146.
"I believe it is imperative that the district balance enrollment among all three high schools," said Superintendent James Gay during Thursday's school board meeting. "Ultimately, it will allow Andrew High School to provide the same high-quality programs that are available and Sandburg and Stagg that are community expects and, most importantly, our students deserve."
At a special meeting held on Sept. 18, Gay gave examples of programs that Andrew might have to cancel if enrollment didn't improve.
Gay recommended Thursday not changing the option zone for D118. Students will be assigned to attend Stagg, but they will still have the option to go to Sandburg. Gay notes in an outline for board members that many of the homes in the option zone actually neighbor Sandburg.
Keeping the Palos zone didn’t require any action from the board; it was simply recognized in the action that created the transition zone.
Earlier this month, over 850 residents had signed a petition against the attendance plan. While fewer people attended Tuesday's meeting, some parents still see problems with the district's plan.
"Why does District 118 get an option and we don't get an option?" Jreisat said.
Sign up for breaking news alerts for: