BOUND COUNTY, Ill. — The Bond County Community Unit No. 2 District School Board is considering closing one of its elementary schools.
District Superintendent Wes Olson proposed closing the school, and many parents spoke out against it.
The district held a public hearing into the matter Wednesday night. The superintendent gave a 45 minute presentation on the reasons for the proposal.
“Here are the facts, we have declining enrollment in our district. We still have a class size equity issue,” Olson said during his presentation Wednesday night.
The Superintendent detailed the following reasons for a closure:
- DECLINE IN ENROLLMENT AND CLASS SIZE EQUITY
- HIGHER NEEDS OF STUDENTS DUE TO THE PANDEMIC
- ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY AND INFLATION
- LABOR SHORTAGE
Sorento is a Blue-Ribbon elementary school with 107 students enrolled in its K-8 grades and a student-teacher ratio of approximately 9:1.
According to the superintendent’s presentation, closing Sorento would save approximately $125,000 annually.
“I think those numbers are conservative,” Olson said. “It’s about the needs of the students, however, to say it’s not about finances, or that Dr Olson said it’s not about finances, is not accurate, because it there’s a financial component here.”
According to district data, it spends the most money per student for those attending Sorento Elementary School.
After his presentation, board members asked questions and then held public comments for an hour. The board did not make a decision on the future of Sorento Elementary School Wednesday night, but could vote to close it at its next board meeting on Wednesday, January 19.
If approved, the plan calls for the school to close at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
“We really don’t want the school to close because it’s the heart of our community,” said Melissa Goymerec, mother of three students who attend Sorento.
She recently moved from Ballwin, Missouri to Sorento, Illinois for school.
“Here I am in this beautiful place, this Blue-Ribbon school with one class per level. The school is walking distance from our house, I have three children in this school, kindergarten, fifth and seventh grade,” said Goymerec.
“It really is the center of our community. It is the main employer in our city. Losing that community, losing that smaller environment with one class per level is just devastating to our city.
Another community member said, “A good council does not make decisions for the community, but with the community. The comment was met with applause from some members of the public.
Some parents and at least one council member said they would like an outside expert to look at the numbers and determine if this is the smartest move for the district.
If the board votes to close the school, the superintendent’s presentation showed that most staff would be reassigned to other schools in the district.
The estimate showed that around five staff lost their jobs. Students would be sent to other schools in the district. How students would be redistributed is still up in the air; whether it’s open registrations or limits.
“It’s the biggest employer in our city, losing that community, losing that smaller environment with one class a year is just devastating to our city,” Goymerec said.
During Olson’s presentation, he said he understood it was difficult for the community.
“Certainly it has an impact on the community and the surrounding areas, it has been heard and acknowledged and it is real,” he said.
The board had asked for other options, and Olson presented the board the following Wednesday evening:
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