Tough decisions about school closures looming in Galesburg

GALESBURG, Illinois - With fewer students and too many outdated buildings, Galesburg may close at least three schools in coming years.

District 205 is trying to get the most from its funding.  That likely includes cuts to classrooms.

During story time on a stifling Tuesday, there's no air conditioning at Nielson Elementary School.  It's dismissing early, and one reason why it may eventually close.

"You never want to close a school," said Dr. John Asplund, District 205 superintendent.  "That's hard for families.  That's hard for teachers.  It's hard for kids.  It's hard for the community because it's a loss."

With some 4,200 students, the district is charting its future during challenging times.  That includes proposals to close at least three schools in coming years while improving others.

School leaders will be pouring over public input in coming weeks.  The school board could reach a decision in November, but nothing is cast in stone.

"This isn't really a staff reduction measure at all," said Dr. Asplund.  "It's really just trying to make our resources fit the money that we're getting."

Schools needing the most repairs are up for closure.  That includes Gale Elementary School and Churchill Middle School.  Nielson and King Elementary are also on the bubble.

Decison-makers want to make sure that changes reach across all sectors of the district.

"We don't really want to raise the taxes for people here," Dr. Asplund continued.  "We already feel like the rate is pretty high."

Students probably won't feel the impact for nearly two years.  For them, hopefully, a happy ending to the story.

"There's a lot of emotion tied up in that, and we know that," Dr. Asplund concluded.