Frequently Asked Questions

Changing School Structures

In the fall, our Delavan-Darien’s elementary schools will become grade-based, not neighborhood-based. Certain schools will house certain grades instead of all schools housing all elementary grades. Here are some frequently asked questions about the changes coming in September:

What are the main benefits of the model?

The benefits are many. The model encompasses a district-wide philosophy rather than a school-based philosophy. It also accomplishes complete integration with our diverse student community, and class sizes can be balanced equally both in number and student learning needs. The model gives more options for students to be paired with a teacher who best meets their needs. Students will be with their “graduating class” since the first day of pre-school. Students will no longer have to change teachers or schools if they change addresses within the district. The model is a more efficient and cost-effective way to operate the district, thus saving money for existing and potentially new programs. Advanced learners will be clustered together and can receive more robust Gifted and Talented programming in this model. Our grade-level teaching teams will be together, providing more collaboration. We can more easily offer a variety of multiple classroom structures to meet the needs of all students.

Why is this change in school grade level configurations happening?

We need to maximize the effectiveness of our teaching and we need to do so in a way that maximizes our financial resources available. We feel this is a better school model for our district and one that can be done to save district resources to maintain existing programs and more thoroughly address the culture of our district.

What will the new building structures look like?

Wileman will house Early Childhood classes, 4-year-old and 5-year-old kindergarten classes, plus a privately-run daycare that will offer services (for an hourly fee) before and after school (7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Turtle Creek will house all students in grades 1-3.

Darien will house all students in grades 4-5.

There were no changes made to Phoenix Middle School or Delavan-Darien High School.

What will bussing be like?

Students who are within walking distance of their building will be responsible for getting to school on their own (walking or a ride with a parent/guardian/other adult). Areas deemed hazardous will continue to be identified and those students will be bused as we always have.

Students outside of walking distance will have bus transportation provided by the district.

All eligible bus riders who attend Wileman Elementary will have their very own busses, and will only ride with other students from the school.

First- through fifth-grade students will ride together on a route that will stop first at Turtle Creek. The 4th and 5th graders will then take a shuttle bus over to Darien. The 4th and 5th graders within walking distance of Darien can walk or get their own ride to Darien, unless they live in a hazardous area. They do not have to come to Turtle Creek first.

How will this model save the district money?

While there are some additional bussing and one-time moving costs, we feel we can run a much more efficient operation. The model should allow the district to save and reallocate funds — possibly $500,000 or more — to maintain existing programs. Most of the savings would come from a reduction of staff (via attrition). Without inter-district boundaries for our schools, we can reduce staff levels while keeping teacher:student ratios appropriate. There are also savings found by not having to buy redundant materials for three buildings, having fewer software site licenses and a reduction computer hardware equipment.

How will the student:teacher ratios compare next year to what we have now?

Under this model, students can be distributed equally between the teachers at each grade level because they are in one building. This includes students with special educational needs and conduct concerns.

Was this the only configuration plan considered?

The district has considered other structures. However, none offered as many academic and efficiency/financial benefits as the model chosen.

Why not just close one of the schools?

Our enrollment totals would not make closing a school appropriate. We still need the classroom space for the number of students we have and for future planning.

What’s going to happen to the teachers and school buildings?

We are not laying off staff and we are not adding or removing classroom space. We are simply changing the location of where some of the grades are taught and the equipment/materials needed to educate those grades/ages of students. For instance, the pre-school size chairs and desks at Turtle Creek and Darien will be moved to Wileman, while the larger desks and chairs at Wileman will be moved to the other two schools.

How will the school configurations immediately benefit my child?

Your child will have more opportunity to be paired with a teacher best suited to meet his/her educational needs, and they’ll get to know all students in the district that are of the same age. There won’t be a “Phoenix funnel” where children from three different schools all meet each other for the first time in sixth grade.

How will the school configurations continue to benefit my child?

Students will have greater opportunities to switch teachers if needed, and our opportunities for enhancing Gifted and Talented programming should become much greater. We anticipate having more activities for children available after school. The change in structures offers our teaching staff more chances to be inventive and innovative. We feel there will be a lot of new ideas coming forward that will improve the educational offerings and outcomes for our students.

How will these school configurations benefit any child — and all children — with needs for more intensive, specialized supports?

By having students together by age and not by where they live, there are more economies of scale afforded to them. Our teachers (regular and special education) can specialize for a particular age group rather than having to provide attention to children of all elementary grade levels. Grade-level teaching teams for a building will grow and staff will have more resources and ideas to share between them.

Will there be tutoring services offered in 2016-17?

Yes. Click here to learn more.

Will the bus rides be longer than they are now?

That will vary by route. Some routes may be shorter, while others may be longer. We do not anticipate any routes lasting longer they currently do, with the exception of shuttle bus time going to/ coming from Darien.

How do these routes/times compare with the current routes?

They will be approximately the same, with the exception of the shuttle services.

I will have children at Wileman and Turtle Creek/Darien next school year. Will they be able to take the same bus to and from school?

Unfortunately, no. All Wileman pre-school and kindergarten students will have their own bus route, separate from the Turtle Creek/Darien students in grades 1-5.

When will I find out my child’s bus routes and pick up/drop off times?

We anticipate having our bus pickup/drop off times determined this summer.

How will the shuttle bus between Turtle Creek and Darien work next year?

All busses carrying students in grades 1-5 will go to Turtle Creek first in the morning. Fourth and fifth graders will transfer to shuttle busses that head to Darien. At the end of the day, Darien students will leave for Turtle Creek and transfer to their bus, which will take them to stops near their homes.

How will students and parents be oriented to the new schools?

We are planning on having open houses, student tour days and information sessions hosted by the school principal prior to the end of this school year. We will also have special events planned prior to the start of next school year. Students and parents will get to see the school layouts and meet their principals and teachers in advance of the school year starting.

Will the breakfast programs continue?

Yes, at all schools, with adequate time for students to eat.

Will older and younger students still be involved in cross-age level mentoring activities?

Yes, Our teachers and principals will plan these activities.

Who will be the principal, faculty and staff assigned to each building?

At this point our building administrators will remain the same. Most teachers will stay teaching the same grade. About six teachers have asked to be considered for teaching a different grade level. Final teaching assignments will be made this spring.

What about the PTOs at each building? Will there be 3 or only one district wide elementary PTO?

This is to be determined.

What will the Dual Language and Sheltered English Programs look like this structure?

We will maintain these programs, Sheltered English will be available in all buildings. The Dual Language program will add Grade 3 in fall and be at Wileman and Turtle Creek this coming school year. It will be offered in Grade 4 at Darien Elementary in the 2017-18 school year.

If I have other questions, how can I get answers?

We welcome your questions, input and feedback.
Contact an elementary principal at:

  • Becky Schneider, Wileman, 233-6201
  • Chris Fountain, Turtle Creek, 233-6301
  • Kelly Pickel, Darien, 233-6401

Or, call or e-mail Superintendent Robert Crist, 233-6751, or