Oswego Area Parents Furious Over Possible School Changes

OSWEGO, Ill. (CBS) — It could be a contentious school board meeting Monday in Oswego Community School District 308.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, some parents are up in arms over a plan to relieve school overcrowding.

The board will consider several options to address overcrowding. One plan would send students completing elementary school at Wolf’s Crossing in Aurora Township to a new middle school seven miles away in Plainfield, instead of Bednarcik, the middle school right next door.

Parent Denise Uthe opposes that plan.

“Literally we can see these schools from our backyard and they are connected,” Uthe said. “Children from both schools – the middle school students come to help out the elementary students for fun fair and character building programs, and the elementary students go over there.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Fellow parent Steve Katzen said, “it makes absolutely no sense.”

John Knauss said, “from a common sense perspective, most people think it’s kind of a ridiculous option.”

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, families of students at Wolf’s Crossing are organizing to oppose the possibility of having their kids go to the new school in Plainfield, rather than Bednarcik.

Maureen Mills said, “We do have a website, we’ve signed petitions, we’ve gone to all the meetings.”

Bednarcik Junior High, which accepts students from three elementary schools, now suffers from overcrowding.

For years, students from Wolf’s crossing have simply moved on to Bednarcik, which is a stone’s throw away.

“There is a symbiotic relationship between these two schools right now,” Katzen said.

But, because of the housing crisis, brand new Murphy Junior High in Plainfield has sat mostly empty since 2008. The district is now deciding which neighborhoods to send there next year and proximity is not the only consideration.

“They’re looking at the number of students, what’s going to relieve the overcrowding, what are the areas of the school district that will continue to grow,” said District 308 communications director Kristine Liptrot.

It creates a situation where Wolf’s Crossing is actually the closest of the three feeder schools to the Murphy. Because of bus routes, all three schools would average roughly 25 minute travel times to either junior high.

The boundary committee’s Crystal Alperin said, “In our district, we’re very fortunate that, even with this horrible economy, we do have a building that we’ve already built.”

Alperin in a parent representative of the district’s boundary committee that recommended a different elementary be bused to Murphy, but their suggestion is non-binding and Wolf’s Crossing parents are concerned.

Parent Maureen Mills said she’s “hoping and praying it goes in our favor.”

Liptrot emphasizes that nothing has been decided so far, and she says the anger among parents is premature.

“Boundary changes are always something that is emotional,” Liptrot said.

Complicating matters is the sudden resignation of school district Supt. Dan O’Donnell last week.

Liptrot says O’Donnell’s resignation had nothing to do directly with the boundary controversy.

District 308 serves elementary through high school students in Oswego, Aurora, Montgomery, Plainfield, Joliet and Yorkville. The school board will consider the matter Monday night at Oswego East High School at 7 p.m. Parents will be in attendance to voice their concerns.

  • Me

    Oh goodie…Oswego is following in the footsteps of neighboring Naperville in building schools in neighborhoods and then not sending neighborhood kids to it.

    I have to ask, since I have kids at Wolf and Bednarcik…what over-crowding? My kids haven’t commented about it. The only time I ever see over-crowding there is all the parents and their land-yachts for the various after-school activities. I walk the 1000 yards from my house to the schools to avoid it.

    • Me

      The Boundary Committee meetings are open to the public. Information regarding the boundaries and the committee will be posted on this webpage. In addition, emails regarding boundaries can be sent to the district at boundaries@oswego308.org.

    • Me
    • Me

      The map on the district’s website is almost useless. One cannot tell where the border’s truly are.

      Though I am wondering about why the Homestead Elementary neighborhood, North of Wolf\Bednarcik is heading to a school that far south. Same could be asked of the Traughber grouping north-west of of the Fox .

      Wouldn’t it make more sense to feed a whole elementary school to a Jr High school instead of splitting it up like 3-4 of the groups are?

  • Me

    And the map on the district’s website is almost useless. One cannot tell where the border’s truly are. Though I am wondering about why the Homestead Elementary neighborhood, North of Wolf\Bednarcik is heading to a school that far south. Same could be asked of the Traughber grouping north-west of of the Fox .

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to feed a whole elementary school to a Jr High school instead of splitting it up like 3-4 of the groups are?


    The Boundary Committee meetings are open to the public. Information regarding the boundaries and the committee will be posted on this webpage. In addition, emails regarding boundaries can be sent to the district at boundaries@oswego308.org.

  • Martin

    Interesting changes planned by the Board. Would love to have know this was happening before the planned meeting, 10am if I recall last time I looked up a BOE meeting time.

    Doesn’t look like it directly impacts me…yet. But who knows what will happen in the future.

  • J

    Parent anger is premature?!! True nothing has been decided, but parents have every right to be angry when board members are openly discussing their vote, their intentions, and spreading rumors. Parents have every right to be angry when a school board of 7 members, who have studied this issue for two weeks decides to disregard the recommendations of a 40 member committee from the community that has been studying the issues for months. Parents have every right to be angry when the impartiality and professionalism of the process is in question.

    • Dhula

      Thanks! For these easy steps. I did it and I see the reply buttons under each cnmoemt. I have one problem and don’t know if there is a solution. When I reply to a cnmoemt it takes me to another screen with all the cnmoemts on it. And if I want to continue replying i have to go back to original screen and so on. Is there any way to reply underneath each cnmoemt in one page like in disqus. Like if you are chatting???Thanks

  • Tracy

    Are we supposed to wait until a decision is made to get angry? Are we supposed to just “hope” the board makes the decision in the best interest of our children? Now is the time for action, not after the fact when it’s too late to do anything about it. I agree with J 100%. Parents have every right to be angry and question the process.

  • OMG!

    To me, it looks like everything North of Ogden should go (with Homestead) to Murphy. Problem solved. Tell me again, why is Murphy in the Oswego boundary lines – soooo far away! When I was this age, my jr. high was under 2 miles away! Oh, please tell me which schools the board members kids attend – bet they are not the schools that are in discussions of being moved to Murphy! ;)

    • Due Process

      You are correct!

      One board member has a child at Wheatlands Elementary. Care to guess which elementary school never came up in the talks of being moved?


      • Committee member

        Wheatlands was strongly considered as a possibility. Please check the Boundary Committee meeting information on the D/308 web site.

      • Martin

        @Committee Member…when is the meeting? I cannot find it on the D308 website, just a location and date.

      • Committee member

        Tonight, 7 PM. Oswego East, Performing Arts Center.

      • Martin

        @Comittee Member. Thank you.

    • Martin

      Its so far away? The kids at Homestand Elem will be closer to Murphy than some kids attending Traughber. Caton Farm is SOUTH of Plainfield.

      308 goes very far south with lots of green room inbetween the populated northern and southern borders.

      • OMG!

        It is asinine for the board to want to send any of these schools to Murphy. They are all too far away and the main intersection (Wolf’s & 30) is a dangerous one. Churchill does seem like a logical solution, but on the other hand, look at the map again. How about the borders for Traughber & Thompson are reconfigured – this map seems ridiculous to me the way it is set up and the other schools in the upper right of the map stay the same? Very poor planning on the districts behalf to build the schools where they did – now all the communities are suffering because of it! WC students need to stay @ Bednarcik, it is foolish to send them to Murphy! Board members with kids in these schools either should not be allowed to vote or they should not be on the board.

  • s

    Way too many politics in the decision making process here and it raises so many questions. One board member wants to keep one school “crowded” so his wife can maintain her job at that school. The data that was used for decision making is terrible. I heard one of the people that works for the school district say they didn’t get their data from a qty of sources just from a quality source. Double-check your data. Alot of it was wrong. Also, this process has been unfair to Homestead and favors Wheatlands due to political ties. This is like Chicago-corruption in the suburbs.

  • Sharon

    With only have attended one meeting and reading countless emails, minimally is said about the kids. My child goes to Bednarcik and is still adjusting, having struggled with many issues. I have read some say, kids adapt to change, but what about those that it is too difficult and takes longer to adjust? I am sure my child is not the only child that struggles in this way. But am saddened that more won’t speak of it, because some therapist says they will be OK. Even if his social worker, and counselor say he will regress more.

    • Martin

      My wife and I have fought with the school district for nearly 10 years over our children’s education. It took 4-5 years, but lickily we got an IEP. The single biggest aide of it was that my child was able to have a safety net in their adaptation to Bednarcik from Wolf and now from Bednarcik to OEHS.

      Sounds you have a social worked and counselor that would make great references for an IEP.

      A warning against an IEP…it will label the child LD\ED. You will need to jump thrugh many hoops and many midday meetings to get and maintain it, but it is a God send and the only reason my eldest is still in 308 and not bieng home schooled.

      • Sharon

        His issue is not to the need of an IEP. I know and understand many children that need that, I just think disruption of continuity in educational surroundings is more mis understood. When and if my grade school children needed to go in the future, that would not bother me, its next year. Changing a 6th graders school, and starting 7th in yet another school.

  • Parent fed up!!!

    This should not be happening to any of the children in the Aurora/Oswego area. The school board needs to do the right thing and develop another plan. No parent or child should be in this situation period! Poor planning of the school board is not something that will be tolerated. The children deserve better than this and it is turning into an emotional issue instead of hard facts. Pathetic!!!

    • Nicholle

      JasonViens23 on January 31, 2011 that was horrible lol ahhhhaaa.. im so happy mine didnt go that bad.. a bit of advice to all future best men.. dont try to be a inevative hero.. look up some good speeches take some good points from a few of them then impliment your own touch on them.. its a stressfull moment there is nothing wrong with a little help

  • Angela

    I understand that it is difficult for Wolf’s Crossing give up the convenience of having a middle school near their home. However, living so close to the school that one could walk is a luxury not a right. Currently, Homestead is the area selected to go to Murphy, even though this community is the FARTHEST away (about 8 miles). It would mean Homestead kids would be on a bus for 45 minutes each way, or 7.5 hours a week! These are invaluable hours that should be spent with family, studies, extracurricular activities, or getting much needed sleep. It is an exploitation of children’s time. To allow specific groups the comfort of a luxury at the expense of another is unjust.

    The current proposal violates the policy of the Oswego School District to provide equal educational opportunities for all students. I hope Board advocates on behalf of ALL children and makes sure commute times are more equitable, no matter the toes they have to step on.

    • OMG!

      The whole time spent in transit argument is a lame one – sorry! The same amount of time will be spent by any of the schools in transit to Murphy. The map needs to be thrown out & reconfigured!

      • Angela

        Thank you for proving my point.

      • Angela

        The effects that long bus rides of more than 30 minutes may have on students is a big concern in our nation. Experts believe there is a correlation between long bus rides and lower academic achievement, poorer levels of fitness, fewer social activities, and less parental involvement.

        No, it is not “lame” and it is also not the same amount of time. There are serious implications to the well-being of the children taking these extra long commutes.

      • D-Student....NOT


        I road the bus 45-50 minutes all 13 years of school and I was generally one of the last kids picked up in the morning and first dropped off at night. Your science is not based on anything but the pseudo-science used by the touchy-feely social workers that think all kids should get an award in sports, etc.

    • KB

      Oh, it gets better. Some parents brought up a point to make Wolf’s Crossing a walking school. Now the board is looking into that. They said by eliminating the buses there they could save money. This school was not set up as a walking school- it crosses a busy intersection and is set back. Also try telling parents when its raining out or it’s 10 below out or you have little ones that they should be walking their kids that far to school. All thats going to happen is that the traffic will back up even more causing more congestion and making harder for the Homestead students on buses to get through the traffic to get to their school thats now all the way in Plainfield.

    • Sarah

      THIS. thank you.

      • Mark


    • Me

      What about all the kids being sent to Traughber? Its the biggest area…and runs from the southern border of the district to the northern one. And any kids running from the NW corner of the district have to traverse Oswego in order to get to school.

      45 minutes each way as opposed to 25-30 going to Bednarcik? That’s an increase of 15 minutes (2.5 hours) not 7.5 hours.

  • Sarah

    No one comes out to vote for the BOE elections, which allowed a bunch of tea partiers who care only about keeping their own taxes down to get on the board. Not much is said at all about what is best for the children.

    I don’t know how people cannot have heard about this until now. My friends over at Homestead have been organizing against the proposed change for well over a month. All politics is local. Get involved.

    • Me

      TeaPartiers? Awful fast in the political blame game there.

      • Sarah

        They are tea partiers. I don’t think it’s up for debate.

      • Me

        Proof? I don’t see or hear anything indicating a political affiliation.

    • Sarah

      Not now you don’t. It was evident during the election.

  • Sarah
  • Paren UPSET

    So, my child goes to Bednarcik now and went to the Wheatlands Elem. Where would she be going next year Murphy, or staying?

  • Sarah

    No one knows yet. That’s what the fight is about.

  • Maritn

    Lots of finger pointing…Homestead says that Wolf should go…Wolf says it shouldn’t. What about The Wheatlands? Its a smaller footprint, similar in size to Homestead.

  • Sarah

    It just makes no sense to take the kids farthest away from Murphy and send them there so they kids CLOSEST to Murphy can stay at Bednarcik.

    • Mark

      Agreed. That really flies in the face of common sense.

  • Sarah

    Actually, someone on Oswego Patch just pointed out that Churchill is closest to Murphy. Why are they not in the discussion? People think because one BOE member’s kids go there.

    • Maritn

      Churchhill is dominating the discussion….blah…blah..blah…me..me…me is all I hear from them.

      • Sarah

        I feel the same way about WC. “I can see Bednarcik from my house!” Big, fat, hairy deal.

      • Martin

        Its that from all the speakers. Its all about themselves. Very little about the kids.

  • Martin

    There is a serious problem with the maps provided on line…Brokaw is next to OEHS? I don’t think so. Its next to Churchhill.

  • Martin

    Looking at where Murphy is and if WC or Homestead are moved the school district and county are going to need to improve the Heggs\Eola & Rt30 intersection at it is an simply stop sign. Route the buses to Wolf and Rt30? That’s a simple 2-lane intersection that backs up as it is in the mornings.

    Based on the roads and infrastructure, Churchhill is the best solution.

  • Martin

    End of public comments….100 minutes of bickering….

  • Debbie

    I have to say, I’m listening to this and it’s clear that the Committee has put a TON of time and thought into their recommendation. The Board members who are voting seem to be pretty uninformed and appear to have done no research at all. This Lori lady clearly has her own agenda and has no interest at all in what was recommended or what research was done. She just doesn’t want the downtown area moved even if they have a perfect reason why. Her reasoning that her son has friends at a different school are just moronic.

    • Martin

      I agree Debbie. Lori was the one dominating the discussion of 7.3 or what ever the boundary discussion after public discussion was over?

  • Debbie

    Lori must either have family in the downtown area or friends. She is fighting tooth and nail to have the downtown kids stay put. I would love to know why she is so specifically not wanting to disrupt that specific group but seems to have no care at all about disrupting any other group. Lets worry about the majority Lori and not your little pet group.

    Can someone tell me, are those positions voted in? She needs to be off the board – she does not have the majorities best interest in mind. Does anyone know her full name?

    • Martin

      The Board is an elected position. I’ve seen the signs around election time, not sure of the cost or requirements to get elected.

      Its Laurie something. The full Board, their terms, and committees are listed on D308 website.

  • COR

    I’d like to provide you with scientific information to show you the negative affects that the increased travel time being asked of Homestead students’ will potentially result in 1.0-1.5 hours of reduced time/sleep every night. These 1.0-1.5 hours of reduced sleep every night will have a direct correlation on students’ academic performance.

    Bronson, PO; Merryman, Ashley. “The Lost Hour,” Nurture Shock, pp. 27-44.
    The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). http://www.aasmnet.org/

    Around the world, it is an overlooked fact that children – from elementary school through high school – get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: IQ points, emotional well-being, ADHD, and obesity. According to surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, 90% of American parents think their child is getting enough sleep. Studies show that half of all adolescents get less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights.

    According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the recommended amount of sleep, in general, for each age is:
    Newborns: 12 to 16 hours total in short sleeping periods
    Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers: 11 to 14 hours, including naps
    School-age children (kindergarteners to 8th graders): 9 to 10 hours
    9th-10th graders: 9.25 hours
    11th-12th graders: 8.5 hours

    Sleep scientists have recently been able to isolate and measure the impact of this single lost hour. Because children’s brains are a work in progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that is simply doesn’t have on adults.

    Sleep matters not just for academic performance and emotional stability, but to the international obesity epidemic. In the last three decades childhood obesity has tripled. All studies point in the same direction: on average, children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more. Among the middle schoolers and high schoolers studied, the odds of obesity went up 80% for each hour of lost sleep. In addition, kids who don’t sleep well are often too tired to exercise – it’s been shown that the less sleep kids get the less active they are during the day.

    A few scientists theorize that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure. Many of the hallmark characteristics of being a teen – moodiness, depression, and even binge eating – are actually just symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation. Additional consequences if teens do not get enough sleep are as follows: problems with learning and memore that can lead to bad grades, slower reaction times that can make it harder to do well at sports and increases risk of car accidents, and higher chances of getting sick.

    According to Dr. Avi Sadeh at Tel Aviv University, a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to (the loss of) two years of cognitive maturation and development. Or in layman’s terms, a slightly-sleepy sixth grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. Dr. Sadeh’s research is an important reminder of how fragile children are.

    Dr. Monique LeBourgeois at Brown University and Dr. Paul Surrat at the University of Virginia discovered that the sleep shift factor alone is correlated with performance on a standardized IQ test. Every hour of sleep shift time costs a child seven-point reduction in scores. A seven point reduction
    is significant, since sleep disorders can impair children’s IQ as much as lead exposure.

    University of Minnesota’s Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom surveyed over 7,000 high schoolers in Minnesota their sleep habits and grades. Teens who received A’s averaged about 15 more minutes of sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers by Brown’s Dr. Mary Carskadon. Certainly these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out.

    In short, every minutes counts and an hour more of sleep improves student’s quality of life.

    “Reasonable travel” needs to be moved to the top of the guiding principle list. Please do not ask our kids to needlessly waste 1.0-1.5 hours of their precious time on the bus when their current junior high is on average less than 10-15 minutes away.

    • Sharon

      Thank you for that! Very eye opening!

    • Me

      I will restate something that was said ealier…60-90 minutes of travel versus 40-50…note versus 10-15. I live in Lakewood and it takes 10 minute to get to Bednarcik on a Sunday morning. Heading west thru Oswego in the mornings, its even busier.

      The only loss of sleep would be due to the parents not sending their kids to bed at reasonble times. The child need 9-10 hour of sleep, don’t put them to bed after the nightly news…or favorite tv show..sporting action is over. My grade-schoolers go to bed at 8…and get up on their own between 6 and 6:30. On weekends they go to bed the same time.

      • OMG!

        I agree with you on the sleep issue – I am the same way! The parent is the boss!

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