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Woodstock School District 200 wants more answers on potential Dean Street Elementary closure

Board will push back discussion to December meeting

Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com
Woodstock School District 200 Board President Carl Gilmore (left) and Superintendent Michael Moan listen to public comment during a meeting Tuesday, where they discussed a proposal to close Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.
Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Woodstock School District 200 Board President Carl Gilmore (left) and Superintendent Michael Moan listen to public comment during a meeting Tuesday, where they discussed a proposal to close Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock School District 200 Board officials pushed back a decision on the potential closure of Dean Street Elementary School to allow more time to get questions answered.

The board met Tuesday to discuss plans to move forward on the closure of Dean, which is one of the key recommendations that came from a Facilities Review Committee earlier this year, and it decided to hold off until at least January to make a decision.

“My personal feeling is we aren’t ready to do anything right now,” board President Carl Gilmore said. “I understand that may mean we ... can’t implement it by next year. I don’t feel real comfortable with any of the options and would like more time to consider them.”

The Facilities Review Committee was tasked with finding ways to best use district resources while cutting costs and maintaining quality education. Other recommendations included ending an annex lease – which the district already has done – and selling the district office.

District officials might opt to close Clay Academy school, which is a smaller facility than the Dean school building. In that case, Clay Academy students would take up residence at the Dean facility, and the 336 students at Dean would disperse to one of District 200’s other elementary schools – likely either Westwood or Olson elementary. This is an option 63 percent of Facilities Review Committee members voted in favor of, according to district records.

If the district moves forward with the closure of Dean, it could mean job eliminations for the school’s principal, custodian, secretary and nurse for a total saving of about $530,000, according to district documents. Principals in the district are under one-year contracts, district officials said.

The district held eight public meetings on proposed changes, and 50 percent of survey respondents were in support of closing the elementary school.

About nine people came forward during public comment Tuesday, and the majority were against shuttering the elementary school.

Oppositions revolved around the loss of a neighborhood school, which some said could affect lower-income families who wouldn’t be able to make it to after-school activities. The closure of the building also could have a negative effect on property values, some said.

Others wanted clarity on what the benefits would be for the community if the school is closed.

“I am prepared to accept that my family doesn’t get an ideal option if it’s better for everybody,” said Woodstock resident Jessica Campbell, who lives in the Dean Street Elementary School boundary limits. “But I have seen nothing that says this is better for the community as a whole.”

The board now will have time to submit questions and concerns to the administration. It will revisit the discussion in December.

Residents with questions and concerns can email board members at BOE@wcusd200.org.

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