Delavan-darien school board votes to close darien elementary education gazettextra.com e payment electricity bill bangalore

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“It’s a heavy load to carry, and it’s just very, very disappointing,” Superintendent Bob Crist said after the meeting. “It’s hard to look people in the eye and tell them they’re not being renewed and give them a notice. It affects their life. Hopefully, they’ll get a job someplace soon. I wish they could stay here.”

Darien Elementary School is one of the district’s three elementary schools, currently housing 263 fourth- and fifth-graders. Darien Elementary’s fifth grade will shift to Phoenix Middle School, and the fourth grade will move to Turtle Creek Elementary School.

Because of years of shrinking enrollment, those buildings have enough room to handle the influx of students, school board President Jeff Scherer said. The district has said its enrollment will not increase over the next five years, meaning the move should be sustainable for several years.

Closing the school and the 39 teacher non-renewals are “directly, 100 percent correlated” to the referendum’s failure, Scherer said. Shutting down the school will likely save the district about $500,000 a year, which the school board sees as saving about six or seven teaching positions.

Several teary-eyed people hugged each other in the school’s administration lobby after the board voted to close down the school. The board said the move could be “temporary,” hinting it could reopen if the district attempts—but passes—another referendum in November.

“Like any business, you’ve heard the term downsizing, We’re caught in that,” Crist said. “If people continue to enroll out, we don’t need as many facilities or staff. This just goes with it. If we don’t have resources, we have to make fiscal adjustments too.”

Before their vote on the closure and the non-renewals, each board member delivered remarks to the packed boardroom of about 40. Though the vote to close the school passed unanimously—with the exception of newcomer Doreen Grams, who abstained because she wasn’t on the board when the referendum was considered—each member expressed serious regret and displeasure with having to make the vote.

“I’m at a loss of words. I thought we were making some good progress,” Scherer told the crowd. “We’ve got a problem to solve. We can’t just borrow. We can’t print money like the federal government. The public said live within your means. That means closing Darien. From where I’m sitting, we’re backed into a corner.”

In the months leading up to the referendum, officials warned voters the district would be in profound financial trouble if the referendum didn’t pass. The referendum would’ve increased the district’s funding by $3 million annually, a move that would’ve allayed the district’s chronic underfunding issues, which officials have blamed on the state’s school funding model.

“I want to be positive about this. And you know as dark as it may look now, we always have to look forward,” Deschner said. “We have to do what we have to do now. The staff that I’ve met have been exceptional. I hate to see anyone go. I’m just hoping we can change this in November and get some of the staff back that we lose.”