The first step towards changing the look of District 205 was made Monday night.
The Board of Education for CUSD #205 approved moving forward with a facilities improvement plan that would see consolidation of several grade levels into fewer buildings.
This has been a hot-button issue in the district between parents, teachers, and taxpayers.
After a unanimous vote, District 205 would be reshaped as such:
- Kindergarten through 4th Grades at Silas Willard, King, and Steele schools
- King and Steele would see renovations to accommodate the increase in enrollment
- 5th and 6th Grades at Lombard
- Lombard would also be renovated to accommodate the enrollment increase
- 7th through 12th Grades at Galesburg
- Renovations would be done throughout the school to separate the 7th and 8th graders from the 9th through 12th graders.
Superintendent Dr. John Asplund also added that the district would see reductions in operating costs to the tune of $1,167,188 in the first year through the reduction in staffing. He attributed most of those savings to staffing reductions in administration, custodial, secretarial, and food services. Asplund added that there were planned retirements coming up and the administration believed that there was a path forward through attrition instead of layoffs.
Floor plans and layouts are still a “long way out” according to Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Jennifer Hamm, who went over the process for creating a mock budget based on future estimates of utility expenses. A two year projected timeline is estimated for all work.
Prior to the vote, board members each addressed many issues that had arisen in the process of coming to this decision. Most talked on the perception the board had rushed the plan through. However, Board President Tianna Cervantez and board member Wayne Statham stated that since joining the board nearly four years ago, building plans have been a part of the discussion.
Cervantez also brought up how previous boards had to “right-size” the district in regards to the number of faculty members. She said now was the time for the district to “right-size” itself in terms of buildings.
As far as research into the positives and negatives of combining the 7th and 8th grade with the high school, board member Statham said that there was a lot of research done throughout the country. He said that from what he’s seen there are more advantages than disadvantages to the practice of combining the grade levels.
Dr. John Asplund stressed that the vote was just the first step in a lengthy process. The Illinois State Board of Education still had to approve the district’s plans before any work could be done.
As part of the facility improvement plan’s approval, the school board also approved the sale of the $40,500,000 in School Fire Prevention and Safety Bonds as well as their intent to issue $12,000,000 in Working Cash Bonds to help cover the cost of these improvements.
The full board meeting can be watched here.