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updated: 8/25/2010 3:11 PM

Cary Dist. 26 to study enrollment before another school closing

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By all accounts, student enrollment in Cary Elementary District 26 will stagnate or decline over the next five years.

But District 26 school board members want to be sure before they make crucial decisions like possibly closing another school at the end of this year.

The board voted 5-2 this week to join with three other area districts to update student enrollment projections that were last visited in 2005. The new enrollment study will project student numbers through the 2020-21 school year.

New board member Kevin Carrick joined Chris Jenner in opposing the measure. Carrick argued that given that enrollment is unlikely to rise soon, the money could be better spent elsewhere.

"I don't think an updated version is going to tell us anything new today," Carrick said.

But Superintendent Brian Coleman said now is the time to do the study because three other districts have agreed to share the cost.

"That year is going to cost us more money if we do it again," Coleman said. "Waiting another year - will cost the district more."

Coleman said in July that it will be difficult for the district to achieve its goal of cutting an additional $2 million from its budget this year if it doesn't close another school. The district closed Maplewood School in June.

One decision won't wait on a new enrollment study: the sale of the Maplewood building. The board voted unanimously this week to sell the former school, saying it was unfeasible to rent the building, which is more than 60 years old.

"I feel very uncomfortable with that, given the condition of the building," board President Chris Spoerl said.

District 26 estimates the enrollment study will cost $9,800, or $1,900 per district, although that estimate will have to be revised because it includes Fox River Grove District 3, which was not interested in sharing the cost, according to District 26.

The three districts that will share the cost with District 26 are Crystal Lake High School District 155, Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 and Prairie Grove District 46. District 26 says it will use remaining federal stimulus funds to cover the cost.