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Possibilities are many for school’s future

When Lincoln School closes in May, the Dixon community should be well on its way toward planning for future uses for the building and land. Let a task force be created to investigate the possibilities.

Published: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

The Dixon School Board made the difficult but correct decision in December to close Lincoln School.

What will happen after the last day of classes in late May?

That’s what Dixon Mayor Jim Burke would like to know.

Burke recently sent a letter to Dixon Schools Superintendent Michael Juenger to urge the creation of a “community-wide task force” to find a positive use for the building, which currently houses second- and third-graders.

Burke pointed out that one former Dixon school building has been transformed into the Northwest Territory Historic Center, which this past year attracted nearly 14,000 visitors. He offered to help Juenger with the task of determining the building’s future.

Juenger told Sauk Valley Media that he is not yet in a position to comment on the letter or possible plans for the school.

We support the formation of a task force.

We encourage members of that task force, and anyone else, for that matter, to consult several rural research reports available online from the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs regarding the conversion of empty school buildings to other uses.

The possibilities are numerous.

Empty schools in other Illinois communities have been converted to:

n Community centers;

n Multi-use recreational facilities;

n Daycare centers;

n Antique malls;

n Museums;

n Retail facilities, featuring furniture, gift and craft shops, along with a lunch buffet;

n Government offices and a civic center;

n Sites for multiple businesses;

n Affordable housing units; and

n Assisted living centers.

Several schools were torn down. The property was subdivided into housing lots, and new homes were built. (Could the Lincoln property become the site for future Habitat for Humanity homes?)

In another case, a school was partially torn down, with the remaining portion (gymnasium and newer classrooms) put to use as an active community center.

The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs reports, released in 1998 and 2007, offer food for thought for Dixon area residents.

Let a Dixon task force be created to investigate the possibilities.

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