Eastlawn students in hall

Students head down a hallway Tuesday at Eastlawn Elementary School in Rantoul. The school has about 150 more students than any other elementary school in the district.

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RANTOUL — One of Rantoul’s four public elementary schools is bursting at the seams, and the Rantoul City Schools board is seeking teacher and staff input on how to fix the problem.

Superintendent Scott Woods said Eastlawn Elementary on the village’s northeast side has about 150 more students than Pleasant Acres Elementary and about 100 more than Broadmeadow and Northview elementary schools.

“At our last board meeting, we started a discussion about different ways we can address some of the challenges we are seeing in our elementary schools,” Woods said. “Most of them are related to capacity.”

Feedback is being sought from parents/guardians and staff on the best way to proceed.

In 2006, the district moved to grade centers, but six years ago, it returned to the current arrangement of pre-kindergarten through fifth grade at Pleasant Acres and K-5 in the others.

Woods said the four options being considered include:

  • Do nothing.
  • Draw new boundaries.
  • Have one early-childhood school serving pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students and three schools for first- through fifth-graders.
  • Return to grade-level centers, meaning preschool and kindergarten one building, first and second grade in another, third grade in the third and fourth and fifth grade in the last.

Woods said December would be earliest that the board would decide. He said the district has “good class sizes across the board.”

“The issue at Eastlawn is there is not a lot of space,” Woods said. “Overall in the building, it’s tight. There’s not space to do flexible learning. They don’t have a large enough area for eating lunches. Some of those are really a struggle during COVID. All four of our buildings are about the same number of classrooms, a gymnasium and a library.”

All four elementary schools have a principal and an assistant principal. Eastlawn just has 150 more students.

Woods said the district’s limited resources means it doesn’t have the ability to fund a school expansion.

But while Eastlawn is full, Northview and Broadmeadow both have some empty classrooms. Information forums have been held with staff and parents in both English and Spanish.

Woods said Eastlawn hosts the district’s bilingual program, and most of the bilingual students live within its boundaries, although some are bused in from the Northview and Broadmeadow areas.

“What we want is feedback,” Woods said. “I want our parents and community to know that these changes are being discussed before we make these changes. We’re really trying to be open and transparent about this. There are decisions that have to be made.”

Woods said the district has received good response in the number of surveys returned and emails received.

Early results seem to show that most don’t want to change.

“The preference that I’m seeing from our feedback from parents and families is to stay where we are currently ... and that means staying in the school closest to home,” Woods said.

Our County Editor

Dave Hinton is editor of The News-Gazette's Our County section and former editor of the Rantoul Press. He can be reached at dhinton@news-gazette.com.

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