The Moline School Board voted 5-2 on Monday, May 13th, 2013 to close Ericsson and Garfield Elementary Schools, while moving forward with expanding Hamilton Elementary School.
The vote came even after letters from the NAACP, the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and State Representative Pat Verschoore, urging board members to vote the item down.
Superintendent, Dr. David Moyer, says the changes will save the Moline School District around $300,000 a year. He says he understands it was a difficult decision, but he thinks it was the right decision for the future of the Moline School District.
“I think that when we can start looking forward to the future and the next 50 years in Moline and not look back at the last 80 years in Moline people will start to feel comfortable as we move through the process and be excited about the benefits that they will experience with their children,” Dr. Moyer told News 8 on Monday. “Some of that won’t happen until they start experiencing them, but I think the key now is to start looking forward and stop looking back.”
“I don’t know who I all speak for, but I speak for myself and I’ve had enough looking back at this point. I’m tired.”
The Floreciente Community, which surrounds Ericsson Elementary School, has fought the plan since the start… bringing signs with them to public meetings stating that Ericsson is the “heart of the neighborhood.”
“I think it’s going to tear the whole community apart,” says Bob Vogelbaugh, Former Moline School Board Member and Crossing Guard at Ericsson for the past four years. “This is like the home for the whole community down here.”
Vogelbaugh says he would have voted “no” at tonight’s meeting if he were still on the board.
“You’re going to take the heart right out of this community.”
Transportation is a major concern for parents in the Ericsson Neighborhood. Many parents say students walk to and from school by themselves or with a family member.
“I’m very sad because it’s going to be hard to get my daughter back and forth,” says Virginia Garcia, who has a 3rd Grader at Ericsson. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
There are plans to try and turn Ericsson into a Community Center. The Moline School District plans to sell Garfield. Both schools are set to close at the end of the 2014-15 school year.