Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DONALD
S. McKINLAY, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE LYONS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT: This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County which: one, affirmed the administrative decision of the County Board of School Trustees of Cook County, denying petitioners' (hereafter referred to as plaintiffs) request to detach certain territory from School Districts 194 and 206, and to annex said territory to Community School District 201-U; and two, reversed the order of the County Board of School Trustees of Will County, granting said petition.
Plaintiffs, pursuant to section 7.2 of the School Code, filed a petition to detach seven improved lots, seven vacant lots, part of an area dedicated for golf course purposes and an area owned by the Episcopal Archdiocese, from School Districts No. 194 and 206, Cook and Will Counties, and to annex the detached territory to Community Unit District 201-U of Will County. School District No. 206 is a Township High School District consisting of grades 9-12, and is referred to as the "Bloom" High School. District No. 194 is a Grade School District consisting of grades 1-8, and is referred to as the "Steger" School. School District No. 201-U is a Community Unit District consisting of grades 1-12, and is referred to as the "Crete" School. District 206 (Bloom) has 3,400 high school students and a more extensive program than the 201-U (Crete) High School with its enrollment of 600 to 800. District 194 (Steger) has an enrollment of about 1,800.
Plaintiffs reside in the west portion of Dennell Drive Subdivision, which is located in the Lincolnshire area of the Village of Crete. Dennell Drive Subdivision consists of thirty-nine residential lots. Lots 1-10 and 28-38 are presently in District No. 201-U, Lots 12 to 25 are in 194 and 206, and Lots 11, 26 and 39 are split by the School District dividing line so that part of the residences are in one district, and part in another. Lots 21 to 24 are owned by the Episcopal Diocese. Dennell Drive Subdivision is surrounded on the east, south and north by Crete District No. 201-U. Districts 194 and 206 lie to the west of this subdivision, but the subdivision is cut off from this area by a railroad track and an undeveloped area, so that children in Dennell Drive Subdivision have to travel a mile to find any children who attend District Nos. 194 and 206. All but one of the seven families who reside in that part of Dennell Drive Subdivision in 194 and 206 signed the petition to detach and they testified at the hearing that they would have signed, but they were told they could not do so because they were not registered to vote.
The distance to the various schools is similar, and not a factor in plaintiffs' request. From the Subdivision it is 5 1/10 miles to the Junior-Senior High Schools, and 2 7/10 miles to the Freshman-Sophomore School of 206 (Bloom). To the Grade School of District 194, it is 1 2/10 miles, and to the Junior High School in 194, it is 1 9/10 miles. It is 3.2 miles to the Junior and Senior High School of District 201-U, and 2.6 miles to the Crete Elementary School of 201-U. The children are transported by bus to all the School Districts involved. Five children in the area involved go to public schools, and four to parochial schools. Two of the children attend 201-U on a tuition basis.
Plaintiffs and the realtor, who subdivided Dennell Drive, stated that they thought all of Dennell Drive Subdivision was included in District 201-U. The children actually attended 201-U for a period of one year before it was ascertained that the district boundary ran through the middle of the subdivision.
Plaintiffs testified that they wanted to be in District 201-U because they lived in Crete and that the identity of school and community was important to them in that their children participated in various activities both in school and in the community. Plaintiffs had no objection to any of the schools on an educational basis.
Plaintiffs' real estate expert testified that the homes in the Subdivision would drop in value approximately one-third to one-half if the petition was not granted in that it is difficult to sell homes when the children's playmates attend a different school. Defendants' realtor stated the detachment would not affect the value of the real estate.
Dr. Metcalf, the Superintendent of High School District 206, testified that 3,400 high school pupils were enrolled in District 206; that the district maintained a community college with 430 students; that a very broad program in both academic and technical education is maintained and students are prepared for both jobs and further education on the college level; that graduates of the district are accepted in institutions throughout the entire country; that a school with an enrollment of 600 to 800 pupils (this is the District 201-U enrollment) cannot provide as extensive a program as is maintained in District 206; and that the accelerated sections in District 206 run down to as low as 8 to 10 students with acceleration provided in all academic fields. He further testified that in many other boundary areas of District 206 a situation comparable to that in this case (irregular boundaries as far as village and housing developments are concerned) is quite common and the potential harm resulting from this type of detachment is very disturbing to District 206.
Stanley Monteith, Superintendent of District 194, testified that the daily attendance in the eight grades maintained by District 194 was about 1,820; that the detachment would not be beneficial to District 194 and would hurt its income; that it is having a hard time meeting present day educational requirements; and that District 194 needs all the land that is available and all the revenue it can collect. The assessed value and tax rates of the various schools are as follows:
Ed. Bldg. Assessed val. Rate Rate Bond Total
#194 $ 22,372,442 1.32 .1875 .05113 2.060 #206 189,182,231 .9500 .1875 .1465 1.326
#201-U 41,556,976 1.9710 .25 .5166 2.85
All the Superintendents of the districts affected testified that in view of the small assessed valuation involved, the detachment and annexation would not adversely affect the ability of any of the three districts to meet the minimum requirements set forth by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. It was stipulated there were no pending bond issues in any of the districts.
The report of the County Superintendent of Schools of Cook County, Noble J. Puffer, to the County Board stated:
District 194, as you will note, has an especially high total tax rate and is struggling hard to support a quality education program with an inadequate tax base.
It is further my judgment that any loss in revenue could result in making it even more difficult for the Steger Board of Education to provide a quality educational program with extremely meager resources. I believe, then, that it is not "to the best interests of the schools of the area and the educational welfare of the pupils" that such a change in boundaries be granted, and I further believe that it will seriously affect the ability of the districts affected to meet the standards of recognition as prescribed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Testimony and a map of District 194 indicated that there had been four other detachments from 194. Plaintiffs objected to ...