Neuqua, Waubonsie May Swap Students Balancing Socioeconomics among Ideas Considered

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Byline: Sara Hooker Daily Herald Staff Writer

A tentative proposal to shift high school boundaries with an eye toward balancing enrollment and socioeconomic factors is one of several options being considered this summer in Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

The concept, broached publicly for the first time this week, calls for sending some low-income students who would attend Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora to Neuqua Valley in Naperville.

In exchange, some higher-income students who normally would attend Neuqua would be sent to Waubonsie.

Officials stress it's just one idea among many being considered to address an enrollment crunch in the district that covers portions of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield.

"What we're doing here with boundaries is looking at our community as a whole. Our community is divided," school board President Jeannette Clark said. "We've got two wonderful high schools and we need to figure out where things are with perception and we need to address them."

The district is looking for solutions to overcrowding in the wake of a failed tax increase request in April that would have provided money to build a third high school.

Officials this week began exploring several issues, including enrollment projections, space options and possible boundary shifts.

The district also is studying possible ways to overcome perceptions in some residents' minds that Neuqua is a better school than Waubonsie - at least partially because some of its students come from a higher income bracket.

"We haven't spent a great deal of time on it so far, but it's really not difficult to come up with a plan that spreads some of our socioeconomic diversity around a bit," Superintendent Howard Crouse said.

Enrollment at Neuqua is growing disproportionately faster than at Waubonsie, officials say.

That means the district can't shift some lower-income students to Neuqua without sending some would-be Neuqua students back to Waubonsie, Clark said.

The proposal comes during a time when officials already are considering sending children to Waubonsie from the new Ashwood subdivision in south Naperville. …