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District 27J gets serious in exploring alternative schedules

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By The Staff

BRIGHTON — Converting to year-round calendars for elementary and middle schools — as well as extended-day schedules for high schools — will be a big topic of discussion for School District 27J officials and residents.

The district is hosting a public meeting to discuss the alternative scheduling options at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at Prairie View High School. Space is limited to the first 40 respondents. R.S.V.P. to Kerrie Monti at kmonti@sd27j.org.

According to the district, the scheduling options are being considered as alternatives if the district is unsuccessful in a potential school bond election this fall to build new district schools.

The Quality Schools Initiative recently recommended the district pursue a $150-million school construction bond and $7.5-million mill levy override question. 27J Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chris Fiedler will make a recommendation, based on the QSI work, to the 27J Board of Education in August.

               The need for new schools, which includes a new comprehensive high school and two new elementary schools, is due to the district’s continued enrollment growth. Enrollment projections now show the district could face a 3,000-seat shortage by the 2018 school year without the construction of new facilities. 

                “We are optimistic that our community has come to understand the challenges we face because of our growing enrollment,” Fiedler said. “However, in the event we are not successful, we need to be proactive in how we plan for the future. This will include difficult decisions about how we maximize our school scheduling to accommodate more students.”

                The district has already taken steps for the coming school year to mitigate the impact. This includes the closing of open enrollment at four district schools and moving about 400 Brighton High School freshmen to an off-site location for parts of the school day. If it becomes necessary, the district could transition to a year-round calendar by the 2016-17 school year. Other changes, including an extended day schedule at the high school level, the addition of more portable classrooms, expanded limits on open enrollment, and boundary changes, could be implemented for the 2015-16 school year.