District 86 eliminates buffer zone between Central and South High Schools
Hinsdale Township High School District 86 voted on Monday night to eliminate the buffer zone between its Central and South High Schools.
Zach Mottl, a Burr Ridge Trustee and co-chair of a group pushing for more parity between the two schools, told West Cook News that the vote was a “good first step” but the “real solution lies in which school the students who are in the buffer zone get permanently assigned to.”
He said he hopes that at a future meeting the district hardlines the buffer zone to South, and hardlines another 200 or so students there as well
“Right now students in the buffer zone and in the hardline Central zone have the option to go to South,” he said. “Very few, take it. Right now none of South students has the option to go to Central. It’s very unfair that two-thirds of the district has school choice and one-third, the one-third with the most minority concentration, has no choice.”
Mottl added as late as early May the district was going to hardline the buffer zone into Central but is now feeling the pressure of a complaint filed on June 1 by a group of concerned residents, organized as the Ad Hoc Local School Excellence Committee, with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). A supplemental complaint was filed June 12; it goes into more detail regarding the imbalance in the courses and student activities offered by the two schools.
On another front, Mottl and other concerned residents, working under a “Fill South First” banner, maintain that the school district should use all available space it has in South before asking the voters to approve a $185 million referendum to raise more money through a property tax increase. A recent phone survey showed that the majority of residents currently oppose the referendum the district is considering putting on the November ballot.
“They haven’t sold it (the referendum) to homeowners the right way,” Mottl said. “Only 18 percent of them have children at the schools. They have to show that it’s going to improve home values in the long run. Until then they need to make use of all the space they have.”
Among other disparities between the schools, the supplemental complaint filed with the OCR points out that Hinsdale Central separates its regular track Chemistry and Physics students into either of two courses – what they refer to as “Traditional and Themed.”
“The Traditional courses are designed for students aspiring to future enrollment in Central’s Advanced Placement (AP) classes in Chemistry and Physics; the Themed courses are suited for students who don’t aspire to enroll in these AP classes,” the supplemental complaint says. “At Hinsdale South, Themed Chemistry and Themed Physics are not offered.”