ELMHURST – Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 has hired Strategies 360 to conduct a telephone poll to better determine whether to go to referendum on the November ballot.
The board voted 5-0 on June 28 in support of the poll at a cost not to exceed $22,500, with board Vice President Margaret Harrell voting present and Secretary Karen Stuefen absent. Strategies 360 also conducted a telephone poll in fall 2017 that was intended to help determine what the community thought about offering all-day kindergarten and to understand general views about the district, funding priorities and facilities, according to the district website.
This poll would allow further community-wide input regarding components in the proposed master facility plan ahead of the board's decision Aug. 14, according to the board packet.
Beverly Redmond, the district's new executive director of communications and public relations, said the poll would be expected to take place in mid-July with results coming back to the board between Aug. 6 and 9.
Strategic communications specialist Marcia Sutter said the phone poll would include calling enough people to receive 300 people's responses in order to have a scientific, statistically significant sample. Pollers would call cellphones and landlines over a time period of roughly four days, she said.
Board members suggested asking about interest in all-day kindergarten and payment for all-day kindergarten as well, and the district's administration has been asked to negotiate down the cost of the survey.
Regarding the district's boundaries issue, the board decided to choose a plan labeled as "Option D Modified."
The plan would involve 62 Hawthorne Elementary School students moving to Edison Elementary School, and 64 current bussers to Jackson Elementary School would be bussed to Edison instead. Thirty-eight future students would live in a "choice area," in which they would be able to choose whether to attend Hawthorne or Edison.
Board member Chris Blum asked that the district modify its language of "moving students" as it's not accurate.
"If you're in a school, you're going to finish at that school," Blum said.
Superintendent David Moyer agreed.
As for the cost of all-day kindergarten, Moyer said the break-even amount would be $3,500 for tuition. How that cost would be paid – whether the district would pay toward that tuition and how much – would be determined.
Board member Jim Collins said there are several private options for kindergarten in the community, and some families might continue to use those options, so it would be good to consider that.
"I just don't want to overbuild because we're making the assumption that every kindergartner would take advantage of our all-day kindergarten," Collins said.
Board member John McDonough said the district's contribution to all-day kindergarten tuition would reflect the district's model of public education.
"If it has these benefits and it's good for a kid, then it's good for all kids," he said. "And our public school model should be to find a way to pay the cost of all-day kindergarten as part of our mission as a public school."
The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting is 7:30 p.m. July 17.
To learn about the master facility plan, visit elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan.