* Daniel Vock in the Illinois Times…
New Berlin, a village with 1,500 people separated from the outskirts of Springfield by 12 miles of pale blue skies and sunlit cornstalks, still has many hallmarks of a small town. It hosts the county fair, with chili cookoffs, livestock exhibitions and country music stars drawing crowds during the long days of June. Tractors occasionally join traffic on the main thoroughfare, and freight trains rumble and screech along tracks that travel the length of town. And, of course, the people in New Berlin, like much of rural Illinois, are almost entirely white.
Unlike a lot of rural towns, though, New Berlin is growing, and its schools in particular, with nearly 5 percent annual growth, are booming. Its elementary school attendance has more than doubled since 2003. The growth in the higher grades has been slower, but still some of the highest in the metro area. […]
Students are surging into New Berlin schools, though, not because of the town’s rural charm, but because of its proximity to the suburban sprawl of southwest Springfield. As developers turn farmland into new homes, they are increasingly leaving the boundaries of Springfield’s core school district – District 186 – to do so. Even homes that are within the city limits of Springfield often don’t fall within the school district, because those boundaries aren’t the same. The decade-old, half-million-dollar houses in Springfield’s Centennial Park Place neighborhood, for example, barely fall inside the New Berlin school district.
The same thing is happening on nearly every side of Springfield; city residents, in fact, now go to seven school districts other than District 186. In the Chatham school district, more than a third of students have Springfield addresses.
The whole thing is well-written, so have a read.