Belvidere School Board to discuss possible school closures - – Rockford’s News Leader

Belvidere School Board to discuss possible school closures Monday


To mend their deficit problems, Belvidere school board members have been working for weeks to come up with nearly $6 million.  They're trying to mend an ailing budget deficit. Formal budget cut proposals were published just yesterday.

Lack of funding from the state is just one of the reasons so many local school districts are struggling to make ends meet. In Belvidere the story is the same. Lack of student enrollment may also be a factor.

"The number of students we have in our district is down from the high, a down of approximately two elementary schools worth,  says School Board Vice President Doug Smiley.

Administrations recently recommended closing some schools to make up for their loss. The future of two now hang in the balance, Perry and Kishwaukee Elementary.

"Perry happens to be the oldest school, it was built in 1900, and 'Kish' is basically our smallest attendance school. It's certainly not because of their achievements, because they've been two of our best performing schools," says Smiley.

Tricia Gieseke's daughter is a 4th grader at Kishwaukee Elementary.  She worries about the effect potential closure will have on her. "So next year she would be going to a brand new grade school, and the following year she'd be going to a brand new middle school. So that's a lot of changes for her,"  says Gieseke.

She thinks it could affect all of the districts children. "And that puts the remaining elementary schools at over 90% capacity. I think that's too full. That's really too full. I think we're going to be in an overcrowding situation very quickly. "

Like many parents, Gieseke wants school board members not to rush into a decision. But Smiley says the state is broke, and they need those $6 million, soon.

"I think now we've somewhat exhausted a lot of the ideas and now we're trying to determine what ideas to go forward with," says Smiley.

All actions come up for a vote on March 18th. So there's still one more Monday meeting for community members to voice their opinions to the board.

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