School Closings In Illinois
Although the Chicago Illinois School District has closed down more than 60 schools in the last ten years, no school closings in Illinois are scheduled at the present time. The District targets schools that have low attendance and low performance, but the parents often fight the closures because the school has deep ties to the neighborhood and is the anchor for the community. Sometimes the school is consolidated with another school, sometimes they are just closed, sometimes the entire staff is fired and replaced, and sometimes they are phased out.
- There are certain variables that increase or decrease the possibility of a school being closed. In Kindergarten through fourth grade schools the variables that increase the chance of school closure are: the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) per pupil; experience of the teachers; and the percentage of students that are not meeting math goals. There are nine variables that decrease the possibility of school closures, which could be developed and help prevent the school from closing. These variables are enrollment; how much is being spent on each pupil; if it is the only elementary school in the district; the teacher/pupil ratio; how much the school is exceeding in their reading goals; the poverty rate; being in an urban area; the percentage of immigrants; and, the percent of agricultural workers in the district.
- In the fifth through the eight grades in Illinois, there are a few different variables that increase the possibility of school closure. Those variables are: percentage of Black students; poverty rate; rate of vacancy; the percentage involved in agriculture; percent of high school graduates; and percentage of residents with graduate degrees. Things that decrease the likelihood of closure are: increasing the expenditure per pupil; more teacher experience; and more immigrants in the community. Taking a look at all the variables and making changes can actually help a school avoid closure.
- There are two variables in Illinois that can increase closures in high schools: the tax rate in the district and the percentage of high school graduates. Four variables can decrease the possibility of closure if they are increased. The first variable is increasing enrollment and lowering the dropout rate by offering quality education, a variety of school activities, good treatment of the students, and a good college preparation program. Supportive and productive communities are also important in attracting students. The second variable is an increase in the poverty rate which brings in additional funding to the school. Next, increase in the home values in the community indicate the community is stable and prosperous and brings in more school funding. Lastly, if the school is located in an urban setting, it is less likely to close.
- Three districts in Illinois have had to close schools recently for different reasons. Aurora West USD 129 was closed not only because enrollment was down and the budget could not support the school, but the building at Lincoln Elementary School was over 100 years old. The Cairo SD 1 in southern Illinois closed Bennett Elementary School because they had to balance the district budget. The 145 students from Bennett were moved to Emerson Elementary School. Monmouth-Roseville CUSD 238 consolidated in hopes of keeping their schools open, but that was not the case. Willits Primary School in Monmouth and Roseville Elementary were closed. Students were moved to other schools but considerations were taken for their educational and transportation needs, as well as the least disruption in their education.