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Lincoln’s future on the line

The proposed closure of Dixon’s Lincoln School is the topic of a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. School board members want to hear feedback from the public. Let them know what you think.

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

2013 has already been a challenging year for Dixon Public Schools. The district endured a 9-day teachers strike in March, non-certified staff continue to work without a contract, and the district has a deficit budget.

Now, school administrators have recommended a plan to close Lincoln School for the 2014-15 academic year. The move is an attempt to save about $316,000 and put a dent in a projected budget deficit of $1.47 million.

Details of the proposal were announced Oct. 16, and a public meeting was scheduled to further discuss the plan.

That public meeting is upon us.

It will start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the cafeteria at Reagan Middle School, 620 Division St.

Because the reorganizational plan would affect all schools except Dixon High School, a large number of parents and students have a vested interest in attending the meeting. So do other Dixon residents who want to learn more about what the future holds for their school district.

People will be invited to ask questions and voice their concerns.

Tough financial concerns are what drove the administration and board to consider the drastic step of closing a school.

In a review of the four buildings that serve the district’s kindergartners through eighth-graders, Lincoln School drew the short straw.

At 76 years of age, Lincoln is the oldest school of the bunch. At 5 acres, it represents the district’s smallest property.

The school has the largest number of asbestos floor tiles. Its cafeteria and kitchen are not completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If Lincoln School is doomed to a future of empty classrooms and hallways, Washington, Jefferson and Reagan schools would get a lot busier. So would the streets of Dixon, as yellow buses zip from one school to the next, shipping students based on the proposed new configuration: Washington, prekindergarten, early childhood, kindergarten and first-grade; Jefferson, second- and third-grades; and Reagan, fourth- and fifth-grades (in a self-contained area), along with the current sixth- through eighth-grades.

Parents have raised concerns about the plan, such as possible bullying, logistics of moving more students to Reagan, the lack of a school on Dixon’s southwest side, and possible problems in handling future growth.

But future growth is not anticipated. Enrollments are expected to decline by 1 to 2 percent for the next 3 years, continuing an unsettling trend.

Facing facts, the school district has put forth a plan to deal with them. Wednesday evening will be the people’s turn to get further educated on that plan and share their views.

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