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Testimony ends in Richmond-Davis case

GENEVA – Testimony about the legality of a St. Charles school plan ended Thursday with nearly three hours of testimony from Superintendent Don Schlomann.

Both sides have until Aug. 12 to submit a written report to Judge David Akemann detailing what they think the decision should be. It is unknown when the judge will rule on the matter, which is about the now-implemented plan to make Richmond and Davis elementary schools 3-5 and K-2 schools, respectively.

The plaintiffs – parents who filed a lawsuit soon after the St. Charles School District 303 Board approved the school plan in March 2011 – are calling for the schools to return to their status quo.

Thursday, Schlomann testified that would be "extremely difficult" in terms of logistics, such as staffing, and the students, who have formed new friendships and received such educational opportunities as foreign language instruction.

The first day of school is Aug. 21 for students and Aug. 19 for teachers, he said.

Called as a witness by the district's attorney, Schlomann on Thursday went into detail about why the Richmond-Davis plan addressed a facilities issue.

Davis had design flaws, wasn't handicap accessible and was crowded to the point that physical education was held in the lunch room, and some classes were in trailers, Schlomann said. Physically, he said, Richmond was a better facility and was under-used.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Timothy Dwyer, has asserted the district circumvented No Child Left Behind regulations. He argued the plan forced Davis students to attend a failing school, Richmond.

Richmond had repeatedly failed academic benchmarks before the reconfiguration. After the merger, its adequate yearly progress status changed, eliminating the requirement for it to offer choice, or to let students attend a school meeting AYP.

Schlomann argued that point, saying that, yes, the students attended the building named Richmond, but it wasn't the same school as before because of the changes. Initially, he said, the plan called for both schools to be named Davis, but the community objected.

Referring to demographic information from Richmond and Davis, Schlomann also said that pooling the two student bodies wouldn't have artificially improved lower test scores at Richmond.

"Mathematically," he said, "it doesn't work."

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