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Woodstock School District 200 to draft plans to close Dean Elementary School

Woodstock School District 200 Board members hear feedback at a meeting Tuesday about the idea to close Dean Elementary School.
Woodstock School District 200 Board members hear feedback at a meeting Tuesday about the idea to close Dean Elementary School.

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock School District 200 will move forward and draft plans on how it could close Dean Elementary School.

The Facilities Review Committee, made up of school staff and community members, studied the district’s possible options to better use its facilities and cut costs. Some of the key recommendations included closing the school and making changes to the district’s administrative buildings.

About 50 percent of the parents and residents surveyed were in support of closing Dean Elementary School.

The district will not move forward with the idea of creating a dual language and monolingual school, which 60 percent of residents and parents said they disapproved of. Many schools in the district already offer a dual language program, where students are instructed for half of the day in English and the other half in Spanish.

Eight meetings were held for residents and parents to give feedback to school officials. The feedback was reviewed and presented to Woodstock School District 200 Board members Tuesday night at a meeting at Woodstock High School.

Drafted plans will come before the school board at another meeting in October, Superintendent Mike Moan said. Moan said the plan will look at closing Dean Elementary School, repurposing the school and moving Clay Academy art school programming there as well as economic impacts.

The board might opt to move Clay’s program, which assists special needs students with vocational training and life skills, to the Dean Elementary building. This also would allow the facility to be used administratively, an option that isn’t available at Clay because of its small size.

“I think it was terrific that board members got to listen to the community and were there during meetings,” board President Carl Gilmore said. “I appreciate the community coming out and telling us what they think.”

Board member John Parisi said he’d like to have plans sooner rather than later to have time to look them over and receive feedback.

Moan said the decision should be made about November or December for the next school year.

“I think two weeks is key so that we have time to have meetings before we make a decision,” Moan said. “This is important so that the public can comment and we can engage them.”

In terms of redistricting, Moan said he’d like to keep students together.

“We can send the 90-10 program to one school and the model school to another because change is hard, and we heard that a lot through this process,” Moan said. “If we could at least send the kids together to a school, people aren’t going to love that, but they might be more understanding of the process.”

Moan said that although the school won’t be in walking distance, it will keep neighborhoods together.

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