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Residents express opposition to the idea of closing Lincoln

D-303 School Board considers options to handle declining enrollment

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ST. CHARLES – Opponents of a proposal to close Lincoln Elementary School have fought and won the same battle before and hope to win once again.

“Last time our goal was to save Lincoln … and you heard us,” said Nancy Garrison, who was among several residents who addressed the St. Charles District 303 School Board on Feb. 12. Garrison's three children attended Lincoln.

The district proposed closing Lincoln in 2015. However, the School Board decided against the closure after residents campaigned against it and collected 900 signatures on a petition opposing the measure.

District officials currently are considering closing Lincoln again as a way to address declining enrollment and underutilized schools. They might add this element to their proposal from Jan. 18 to revise all elementary school boundaries and close Fox Ridge Elementary School.

The board planned to vote on the initial proposal Feb. 12, but postponed any action following two resident forums and a special board meeting Jan. 30. At that meeting, the idea of closing Lincoln was brought to the table again.

Both Lincoln and Fox Ridge are on the city's east side, where declining enrollment is a greater issue than on the west side of town. Lincoln is the smallest and oldest school in the district.

Supporters of closing Lincoln cite the school's size and its small, paved playground as reasons it would be the best building to close.

But parents opposing the closure said Lincoln parents like the fact that the school is small and believe its students thrive socially as a result. They said Lincoln students have the same academic opportunities as other children at other district elementary schools.

“Lincoln is so much more than the smallest school in the district,” Garrison said.

Lincoln PTO President Lisa Moline is poised for the latest campaign against closing Lincoln.

“We've had to dust off our 'Save Lincoln' T-shirts from last time,” Moline said.

Moline is concerned about Lincoln staff, volunteers and students who once again are worrying about whether the school will remain open.

“As we're continually put on the chopping block we continue to wonder what's going to happen to us,” Moline said.

Fox Ridge parent Danielle Penman believes neither school should be closed.

“We now have two schools that have students who are upset,” Perlman said. “Closing Fox Ridge or Lincoln should not be on your radar at all.”

Although district officials said the elementary schools have more than 1,700 empty seats, closing schools is not necessary, several residents told the board. They believe elementary boundary changes alone will solve the problem of underutilized schools and class size differences within the district.

Several parents asked the district to conduct additional research and to study current enrollment projection data before making a decision on any school closure. District officials said they have studied the most current data available including information from the city about future residential developments.

The school board will hold another special meeting on the boundary and school closings proposal at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20, at Wredling Middle School, 1200 Dunham Road, St. Charles.