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Leggee Elementary parents bemoan temporary classrooms

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 9:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 11:48 p.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – Some Huntley parents during the School District 158 Board meeting Thursday bemoaned their fifth-graders' makeshift learning environment at Leggee Elementary, where high enrollment this year forced officials to turn computer labs into temporary classrooms.

Parent Kevin Breen told board members his son's interior lab still isn't outfitted with typical classroom materials, such as books, shelves, cubby holes and a SMART board. The small lab, he said, has no windows or natural light and is located behind a kindergarten class split by a small divider.

"It's unfair. It's an unfair fifth-grade experience," Breen said. "It's different from all of the other classrooms."

Two weeks before school started Wednesday, officials decided to transform two computer labs into classrooms to handle an overcrowded student body at Leggee. Roughly 50 students are being taught in the labs this year.

Administrators originally contemplated transferring late-enrolled students at the Huntley elementary school to different schools within District 158.

The late change meant the enclosed labs weren't fully equipped with all the traditional materials and equipment, said Superintendent John Burkey, adding the labs will eventually have SMART boards and other items parents are accustomed to seeing.

Although oddly shaped, the labs still measure more than 800 square feet and are "bigger than our middle school classrooms," Burkey said.

"Is it ideal? Probably not," Burkey said. "But I want to hear what their concerns are. Square-footage wise, it is as large as many of our classrooms in the district. But it doesn't have windows and is darker than many of them."

Burkey did meet with Breen and parent Shannon Swift after the board meeting Thursday to discuss their issues.

Facing the board, Swift echoed Breen's concern. She said her son's lab also doesn't have natural light or room for their materials.

"I don't even know if there is a pencil sharpener," she said. "When you are ready for fifth grade to start and you walk into something like that, I just don't know if you can imagine my disappointment."

Going forward, administrators and the board will likely make minor boundary adjustments before next school year to balance the increased enrollment at Leggee with other less-populated buildings in the district, Burkey told the Northwest Herald earlier this week.

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