GRANITE CITY — Next year, a pair of elementary schools in the Granite City School District will no longer be in business.
As part of the new attendance center model the school district adopted at a school board meeting in January, Worthen and Lake schools will close at the end of the school year.
Under this model, current Maryville, Mitchell and Worthen students will attend Maryville for first and second grade and Mitchell for third and fourth grade. Current Frohardt, Prather and Wilson students will attend Wilson for first and second grade and Frohardt for third and fourth grade. The Early Childhood Center/preschool students and kindergarteners will head to Prather.
Students in fifth and sixth grade will head to Grigsby Intermediate School and seventh- and eighth-graders will head to Coolidge Junior High.
“We’re moving forward for next year,” Granite City Superintendent Jim Greenwald said. “We’re being proactive. We didn’t cut any jobs. We’re going to the attendance centers and that’s basically the big move for next year.”
Among the financial goals for the attendance center model are greater control of staffing needs, sharing of instructional resources and allowing for a reduction of staff through attrition. The model’s educational goals are greater control and consistency of class size, better alignment of grade level curriculum and increase of student support services due to decreased staff travel time.
The district has struggled financially the last several years because of lack of state funding. A year ago this month, its education fund rate increase referendum didn’t pass. Out of 5,662 votes, 54 percent of them (3,042) opposed the tax increase.
“Idealistically, what we’re looking for is just more equitable funding across the board in all school districts,” Greenwald said. “Naturally, many of us are continuing to be in more growing need.”
Since 2011, revenues and expenditures in the education and operations and maintenance funds decreased. The district also reduced 49 staff members, borrowed $10 million and closed one school — Niedringhaus Elementary.
The district’s enrollment has declined by almost 900 students from the 2008-2009 school year. Currently, there are 6,367 students in the district; about 1,900 attend Granite City High School.
Greenwald recently wrote a letter to school district residents that included the deficit reduction plans the district had the last three years. He said in the letter that to meet financial and educational goals, the district cannot stay status quo and must manage resources effectively to maintain and improve programs.
“I work with the Funding Illinois Coalition and they like to have regional areas of communication just to get the word out sort of to speak and just let people know what school districts have done and where the whole fiscal situation is headed,” Greenwald said.
The district’s financial goals are maintaining the balanced budget and managing overhead costs, enrollment variations and class size disparities. The educational goals are maintaining and improving current curricular and extracurricular programs, increasing resource sharing and opportunities for focused grade level staff development and improving instructional consistency among grade levels.