Parent criticizes Downers Grove District 58 plan to cap enrollment at Highland

Jennifer Norgaard criticizes the method employed by Downers Grove Grade School District 58 to select the families who would be able to enroll in the 2018-19 kindergarten program at Highland Elementary School. Norgaard's son likely will attend Belle Aire Elementary School as a result of the decision to cap enrollment.[]

DOWNERS GROVE – Jennifer Norgaard long anticipated the day her son would attend Highland Elementary School.

Norgaard and her husband, Sven, have lived in Downers Grove for eight years. They chose their home at 41st Street and Highland Avenue based partly on its proximity to the school at 3935 Highland Ave. in Downers Grove.

For several years, the Norgaards have watched Highland students walk past their house and looked forward to making the two-block walk with their son, Olin, when he started school.

Instead, the Norgaards will drive their son to Belle Aire Elementary School next school year because they were not one of the families who enrolled their child in Highland's kindergarten class before enrollment was closed. Enrollment forms were submitted electronically, and available spots filled within minutes, Norgaard said.

Kindergarten enrollment for the 2018-19 school year was capped as part of a Downers Grove Grade School District 58 plan to resolve potential overcrowding at Highland.

The proposal called for enrolling no more than 56 kindergarten students at Highland, with early enrollment offered to the siblings of existing students at the school.

Additional kindergarten students would enroll at nearby Belle Aire, 3935 Belle Aire Lane. The district also decided to close enrollment to new students entering first, third and fourth grades at Highland for the next two school years. Those students also would attend Belle Aire School.

Norgaard has expressed her dissatisfaction with the time-stamp system the district used to determine the order in which the kindergarten enrollment forms were received.

“I do not believe you realized that almost every parent who desired a spot for their new kindergartner would be sitting there like me, refreshing two different computers starting at 7:55 am., shaking, typing, copying and pasting with their family’s dreams on their shoulders,” Norgaard said at the Board of Education’s March 12 meeting.

At the April 9 meeting, Norgaard said the details of the enrollment process were never discussed by the board.

"Our families' lives and plans were disrupted by your capping decision," she said.

District 58 administrators decided to use a Google form for registration "because it provided an efficient and impartial way to track the order of Highland kindergarten enrollment requests received," said Megan Hewitt, the district's community relations coordinator.

"We realize that a few families will not be able to send their child to the school they had originally planned on," Hewitt said. "For these families, we will work diligently to ensure their Belle Aire School experience is a positive one."