DIXON – At 2:15 p.m. Thursday, cars lined Lincoln Avenue, and parents stood on the sidewalk and talked as buses awaited the second- and third-graders’ departure from Lincoln Elementary.
The afternoons filled with those sights and sounds are now limited in this part of Dixon, as the school board voted 4-2 to close the elementary school and relocate its students starting next school year.
Closing the school is expected to save the school district approximately $246,000 in the education fund and $70,000 in the operations and maintenance fund. The district is facing a $1.5 million deficit in the education fund for the 2013-14 school year, which leaves a fund balance of $1.4 million.
John Brown, who attended Lincoln himself, was waiting to pick up two of his grandchildren Thursday. He lives just a few blocks from the district’s oldest school, he said, and doesn’t like the fact that younger and older students will be grouped together in the same building
“I just think there’s going to be a conflict,” he said. “But that’s just my opinion.”
Brown wasn’t alone in his concern Thursday outside Lincoln.
Ashley McCrary was waiting for one of her three children and said mixing the wide range of maturity levels was her biggest concern.
According to the proposal Superintendent Michael Juenger presented to the school board in October, the closure will move the district’s fourth- and fifth-graders at Jefferson Elementary School to the former Madison School portion of Reagan, and second- and third-graders at Lincoln to Jefferson.
Pre-kindergarten and early childhood programs at Reagan would transfer to Washington Elementary School, which still would house kindergarten and first grades under the plan.
During the school board meeting Wednesday night, and in a public meeting in October, Juenger assured the board and parents that the school is capable of shifting the students without their safety of quality of education suffering.
Angelo Oleson moved into the Polo School District about 6 years ago, she said from her car outside Lincoln, waiting to pick up a friend’s child. Before the move to Polo, she had her children in the Dixon School District, she said, but didn’t like the way it was being run, so they moved.
She was sad to hear of the school closing and feared there would be a lack of personal attention for the students, she said.
McCrary supports the teachers and understands the difficulties of the job, she said, but is frustrated with the situation and can’t help but see last year’s teachers strike, rising taxes and Lincoln’s closing as “a never ending circle.”