Overcrowding in District 204

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Parents of students in the STEPS Program, which provides specialized post-secondary education for special needs students, appeared at the latest District 204 Board meeting to express concerns about overcrowding and safety at Wheatland, where the program shares space with the facilities management service.

“The first things you see when you enter the building is heavy machinery and trucks for the various district operations,” said Marianne Leahy, a mother of a STEPS student.

“Overcrowded hallways, bus safety issues including the district’s and Aramark’s trucks,” said another STEPS parent, Nancy Seiboldt, further explaining the school’s problems.

“We have reached maximum capacity, we are bursting at the seams,” said Lisa McSharry, the school nurse at Wheatland.

The other issue is that Wheatland is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and will need to be brought up to code.

It’s just one of two buildings facing concerns in the district.

Indian Plains, which serves as an alternative high school, needs either $1.5 million for repairs, or needs $650,000 to be demolished – a tough decision with long-term implications for both groups of students.

“That $1.5 Million for Indian Plains, how long will that sustain us?” said Mark Rising, a District 204 Board member. “I want the best for our kids, whether it’s IEP or STEPS kids, at the best cost.”

The placements of both groups of students hinge on the Indian Plains decision; which needs to be made by October 1.

The district is ordering a demographic study to make a more informed decision about the facilities.

At a recent meeting, the board approved a resolution imploring that the “inadequate process of education funding” be rectified as soon as possible.

The resolution was shared with Governor Rauner and other state elected officials in the hopes of spurring some movement on the unresolved budget issues facing Illinois.

Currently the state owes District 204 more than $15 million.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.