Mottl: Hinsdale District 86 referendum a big ask with no school boundaries set
A $166 million referendum approved in early August by Hinsdale High School District 86 has a slim chance with the voters in November without school attendance boundaries for Central and South high schools in place, says Zach Mottl, a Burr Ridge trustee and co-chair of a citizens group fighting for parity between the schools.
“The board thinks this is all about educating voters why we need the money, but the majority of people won’t vote for this especially if there are no set boundaries,” Mottl told West Cook News.
District Spokesperson Karen Warner said no date has been set for the board to establish the boundaries.
“As I am sure you understand, it is not one decision but a series of decisions to be made because of the complexity involved," she wrote in an e-mail. "At this point in the process, I cannot give you an exact date of when all will be resolved.”
In June, the board eliminated a controversial buffer zone between the schools; residents living in it could choose to send their children to either school. Some parents were upset with the decision because they bought homes in the zone with plans to send their kids to Central, considered by many to be the more desirable of the two schools.
Warner said that since the elimination of the buffer zone the board has taken some steps to set attendance parameters, if not the boundaries.
At its July 18 meeting, the board reassured parents that all current students would be able to graduate from whichever school they are currently attending. At its August 6 meeting, where the referendum was approved, the board established proximity as the sole criterion for determining school attendance boundaries as well as the criteria for school assignment. And on August 6, the board voted to allow the attendance option to apply to student siblings.
Mottl said the attendance decisions, especially regarding proximity, were steps in the right direction. He attributed them in part to a complaint filed on June 1 by the citizens’ committee he co-chairs with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR); it cited disparities in courses and student activities between Central and South.
“Without the OCR complaint, we would never get a fair and equal treatment of the schools,” he said.
The money raised from bonds, if voters approve the referendum on November 6, will make the high schools handicap accessible, replace the pools at both schools and fund additional improvements.