Woodstock School District 200 facilities committee discusses school consolidations, closings

WOODSTOCK – A facilities review committee for Woodstock School District 200 has discussed whether consolidating Woodstock North High School and Woodstock High School, and closing other schools, should be considered. 

Consolidating Woodstock North High School students into Woodstock High School, and closing Clay Academy, Dean Street Elementary School and Northwood Middle School was an idea brought forward by a subcommittee focused on the district’s physical buildings, committee member and Woodstock resident Susan Handelsman said. 

Woodstock North High School could be used for other district purposes, Handelsman said.

The facilities committee started meeting at the beginning of the school year to look at how the district uses its buildings, District 200 Superintendent Mike Moan said. Three subcommittees were formed focusing on educational programming, community use and the district's physical buildings.

Nearly $3 million in annual operating savings could come from the possible closings and consolidations, according to estimates from district documents, and another $6 million could come from capital improvement savings over 10 years. 

The physical building committee was evaluating whether consolidation was something the whole facilities committee should consider going forward, Moan said. All committees will meet together on Jan. 12.

“The criteria they passed along were not a specific endorsement of any one plan,” Moan said. “It’s more of a general idea of looking for the possibility of consolidation, if it exists, while providing a quality education.” 

Woodstock High School has a capacity of 1,800, and there were 1,032 students enrolled at the start of the school year, according to district documents. Woodstock North High School has a capacity of 1,600, and there were 944 students enrolled at the start of the school year. 

“There are a lot of variables there that we can’t predict,” Moan said in response to whether he expects enrollment to grow or decline in the district. 

A $105 million building referendum passed at a time when the district was expected to grow. Creekside Middle School and Prairiewood Elementary School opened in 2007, followed by Woodstock North High School in 2008, the same year as the largest U.S. home price drop in history. Several Woodstock area housing developments came to a halt.

About 60 people, ranging from school administrators, to board members to residents, have been involved with the facilities committee, District 200 Board of Education President Carl Gilmore said.

An informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Woodstock High School auditorium, 501 W. South St., to provide the public with information on the committee's progress, Moan said in a letter addressed to District 200 staff and community.

Starting in January, the committee will review the criteria developed by subcommittees, and develop potential options to bring before the Board of Education in May, Moan said in the letter. 

“Although much work has been done by the committee, it is important to know that no final options have been created and that no decisions have been made,” Moan said in the letter. 

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