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Closing Dean Among Committee’s Proposals

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Closing Dean Street Elementary School is among the recommendations that will be presented to the Woodstock School District 200 Board of Education next month.Independent Photo by Whitney Rupp

Superintendent Mike Moan presented the final proposals from the district’s Facilities Review Committee at a public forum April 10 at Woodstock High School.

“Looking at a number of factors, educational concern was paramount,” Moan said. “… [We were] looking at future enrollment data and trying to come up with just a general idea of [if we are] currently utilizing the facilities in the best way possible. And if not, what are some of the ideas to do such?”

As part of its recommendation to shutter Dean Street Elementary, which has an enrollment this year of 336, the committee also will suggest District 200 create mono-language and dual-language elementary schools.

The committee considered different plans for consolidation as a way to use empty space and save money. Fourteen options were on the table for members to consider; plans receiving more than 75 percent of the vote will be forwarded to the school board.

Also approved by the committee were proposals to sell the district’s administrative office building at 227 W. Judd St., end its lease for an administrative annex across the street, and rent empty space in its high schools to colleges.

Board members will make the final decision about any school closures or changes to the district’s programs. They are expected to hear the committee’s proposals in May, after newly elected board members are seated.

“The board can take whatever action they want on anything they want. I have been very clear on that,” Moan said.

Board members will ask for public input before voting on the plans, he added.

The 10 options that did not pass included variations on consolidating grade levels into certain buildings, such as putting the district’s seventh to ninth grades at Woodstock High School and its 10th to 12th grades at Woodstock North High School. Another option that failed to clear the 75 percent threshold was closing Clay Academy and moving those students to Dean Street Elementary.

District 200 has room for about 9,200 students and an enrollment of about 6,600 this year. District projections show enrollment declining to about 6,200 by the 2021-22 school year, based on live births within the district’s boundaries.

Woodstock resident Ryan Gerry spoke at the meeting about the potential for increases in enrollment.

“I would bet that Woodstock is going to see growth again,” Gerry said. “Every decade since 1900 has seen double-digit percent growth increases for Woodstock, except for the 1930s. So I would not expect future growth this decade, since it’s the biggest recession since the Great Depression, but I would expect growth to pick up, so I wouldn’t want to see the committee make a rash decision and close a building or sell a building just to have to reopen it.”

The Facilities Review Committee has 49 members, including teachers, parents, board members, administrators and residents.

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