Belvidere school board members want two elementary schools close - – Rockford’s News Leader

Belvidere school board members want two elementary schools closed

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School board member Doug Smiley School board member Doug Smiley
Superintendent Michael Houselog Superintendent Michael Houselog
District parent Holly Houk District parent Holly Houk

Once summer's over with, some of Boone County's youngest students might move their learning to different schools, but that idea's not coming from administrators. Closures are a definite possibility for the 2013-2014 school year. So are staffing cuts, but that number's not worked out yet. Some school board members know exactly where they want to shutdown schools.

"I'd like to see a proposal that would cut Perry Elementary School & Kishwaukee Elementary School for next school year." -says board members Doug Smiley during Tuesday night's meeting.

Some residents say slow down, don't close schools or lay-off staff next school year. They've got about 1,800 reasons why in the form of petition signatures, but district parent Holly Houk thinks she's fighting a lost cause.

"Obviously you [school board members] know better, so it doesn't matter what we say at this point. Just think about it, okay?" -says Houk.

Before board members spoke up, Superintendent Michael Houselog announced his recommendation for cuts. Over a three-year period, this plan would save the district more than $2.8 million. The deficit is around $6 million and Houselog has a plan to make up for what cuts won't. Administrators would dip into their Boone County Special Education Co-op savings account. It's built up $2.5 million over the last 30 years. The account's split between Belvidere and North Boone districts based on student enrollment. Belvidere represents about 85% of students in the county. Taking that much out of the savings account adds up to $1.85 million. The administration's plan did not include closing schools this year before Wednesday night, but it did the following year. The superintendent recommended shutting down Belvidere High School in 2014.

"That would add another $1.1 million and then finally the third year we would have additional cuts adding up to about $400,000 that would have us balanced, in fact, running a $100,000 surplus in the third year."

Now, he and his administrative team will look at not only closing BHS in 2014, but incorporating closing Perry & Kishwaukee this upcoming school year into his recommendations. Houselog and school board members discuss this again March 4th and board members are scheduled to vote on a solution March 18th.

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