Final attempt to save Moline schools fails

One last attempt to try to save two Moline schools, Ericsson and Garfield Elementary that are set to close for good. However, one school board member claimed there could have been another way.

It was a packed house Monday, February 3, 2014 at the Moline school board meeting. The topic was the closures of Ericsson and Garfield Elemenatry and the emotions from the crowd were mixed.

“It’s not just the schools going to close, they’re destroying our neighborhood, basically what they’re doing, and they really don’t care,” said Marina Varela, who lives by Ericsson school.

Whole another person from the crowd disagreed, “This plan is what needed to even out class sizes, prepare students for 21st century learning.”

Eight months after the board voted to close both schools and expand Hamilton Elementary, board member Ben McAdams proposed to the board to keep the schools open and make Hamilton a math and science academy.

“The decision by the board of education on May 13, 2013, to close Garfield and Ericsson schools was made without any input from the stakeholders of the Moline/Coal Valley school district,” said McAdams.

The board’s president, Connie Mc Elyea says they have been upfront about everything, holding several public forums.

“We held three last year, prior to the vote, they all had the opportunity to attend,” said Mc Elyea.

The biggest question McAdams says he has, is about the savings. He claims the district will save roughly $350,000 a year when the schools close, but it will cost nearly 50 times that, $17.3 million to expand Hamilton.

“Is spending $17. 3 million to save $350,000 a year make sense? I can assure tell you not to our community,” said McAdams.

However, the board shut down McAdam’s proposal, 5-2 and the idea of postponing the vote to look at other ways to save money.

“It was a difficult decision and in the end I hope our board and community can continue to move forward,” said Mc Elyea.

The board also rejected McAdam’s proposal to place an advisory referendum on the ballot in November. Ericsson and Garfield are set to close next spring 2015.

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