Education

Woodstock School District 200 to hold off on facilities decisions until after fall public hearings

Meetings will kick off at the end of August

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock School District 200 parents will have a chance to weigh in on proposed changes to the elementary schools in August before board members decide whether to close Dean Elementary or change the way its dual-language program is housed.

District 200 board members met Tuesday to again discuss the controversial recommendations from the district facilities review committee. The committee was tasked this school year with the job of formulating strategies for the district to save money and better use its facilities while preserving educational standards and causing minimal disruption to students.

The closure of Dean Elementary School, which has an enrollment of about 300 students, is one of the committee’s key recommendations. Other top recommendations include ending an annex lease, renting out open space at the high school and selling the district office. Another recommendation is to create schools that solely house dual-language students, leaving others to cater to monolingual classrooms.

But officials won’t move forward without first implementing a month-long series of public hearings. Those will start in August, the board decided Tuesday.

“I truly believe if we want to move forward, public engagement is needed,” Superintendent Michael Moan said. “It’s incredibly important, and that has to be the first step.”

Any changes the board decides to make likely won’t take effect until at least the 2018-19 school year, if not later. It all depends on what decisions are made because some will have a broader impact on the district than others, Moan said.

“We have to understand what this means long-term for all families,” he said. “… The important thing here is that it’s not on a clock.”

The public forums are planned to begin Aug. 28. The board will have a chance to see the preliminary forum presentation at its Aug. 15 meeting. The board next will meet July 18.

Board President Carl Gilmore said he wanted to hear from the public on all aspects of the recommendations.

“I think its going to be interesting to get some public viewpoint,” he said. “Some of these things are very straightforward and some of them are not.”

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