Dixon school board votes to close elementary school

A Dixon, Illinois, elementary school will be closing its doors for good next year. By a 4-2 margin, school board members voted to close Lincoln Elementary School.

Funding cuts at the federal, state and local levels are forcing the move.

On Thursday, second graders were busy making holiday cards. The 440 students will transfer to another Dixon school for the 2014-15 year.

“Nobody is excited about contracting and closing,” said Lincoln’s principal Dan Rick. “But we have folks who understand that this is about jobs.”

The school is closing to help the cash-strapped district make ends meet. Declining enrollment and reduced state revenue made the tough decision a reality during a school board meeting that lasted more than three hours on Wednesday night.

“We’re going to have to make a lot of cuts,” said Dixon School Board Vice President Tom LeMoine. “And here we sit with this building that apparently we don’t need.”

Dixon schools is battling at $1.5-million deficit, so the decision to close Lincoln School comes down to dollars and cents.

The school has a rich history itself. Dating back to 1937, it was built during the Great Depression. At one time, it housed nine grade levels. But now, just second and third graders attend there.

“Saving $250,000, that’s the equivalent of not laying off five teachers,” LeMoine said.

As the district watches its wallet, this aging building becomes more expensive to maintain. Dixon hopes the decision will save jobs, educate kids and help the district to plan for the future.

“The same great people are going to be working with them,” Rick said. “That’s the exciting thing. We know that our people are the ones that get it done. It’s not bricks and mortar.”

For now, youngsters will make the most of their holiday project. It will be a holiday finale at Lincoln Elementary School.

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