WOODSTOCK – Concerned taxpayers and Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 board members and parents gathered Tuesday for a community forum to discuss a potential plan to consolidate Woodstock schools.
A District 200 facilities committee has focused on how to better use district resources and space while maintaining quality education that meets the needs of all of its students. A subcommittee focused on the district’s facilities recently brought forth an idea to consolidate high schools and close Clay Elementary School, Dean Street Elementary School and Northwood Middle School.
A survey has been created for the public to give input on the importance of various criteria that will be considered while the district moves forward with its decision. The survey is available on District 200’s website.
About 1,000 people have contributed to the survey so far, Superintendent Mike Moan said.
“We hope for as many participants as possible in the next week for the survey to get a voice that really represents our community,” Moan said.
Some parents said closing schools wouldn’t send a good message to potential Woodstock residents.
“If we look to consolidate schools in anticipation of declining enrollment over time, that seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” District 200 parent John Metze said. “By consolidating schools or closing Woodstock North or whatever is on the table, you are telling future residents that might look to move here that we don’t want them. That stops the economic growth right there.”
Some residents who live in neighborhoods near the schools being considered for closure worried about property values crashing, which they said might happen if schools are shuttered.
“My wife and I live in the neighborhood of the Dean Street (Elementary) School,” Woodstock resident Blake Mueller said. “It’s a nice neighborhood school. … Our No. 1 concern is what is going to happen to Dean Street School if it does close down.
“Is it going to be boarded up? Our property values will come down. Graffiti will go on. It could really be a nightmare so close to the Square. The neighbors would really like to see it continue.”
No options have been put on the board’s table as of now, and the community will have ample opportunity to provide feedback before a final decision is made, Moan said.