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updated: 5/29/2013 11:40 AM

Close Pleviak School, Dist. 41 superintendent says

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  • Russell Lissau/rlissau@dailyherald.comLake Villa Elementary District 41 Superintendent John Van Pelt talks about the proposal to close Pleviak School as board members listen.

      Russell Lissau/rlissau@dailyherald.comLake Villa Elementary District 41 Superintendent John Van Pelt talks about the proposal to close Pleviak School as board members listen.

 
 

J.J. Pleviak Elementary School could be closed in 2014 as a way to save Lake Villa Elementary District 41 nearly $1.2 million, Superintendent John Van Pelt revealed Tuesday.

Van Pelt also proposed changing the grade configurations for the three elementary schools that would remain to save even more cash.

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Two new grade configurations were discussed.

In one plan, two buildings would serve kindergartners through fourth-graders and one would serve fifth- and sixth-graders.

In the other plan, all three buildings would serve kindergartners through sixth-graders.

Van Pelt unveiled the proposals to the school board, parents and teachers during a presentation in the auditorium at Palombi Middle School. A financial advisory committee had developed the plans.

A referendum that would raise more money for the schools or reductions in student programs and activities also would be needed to balance the district's operating budget, which now is about $1.8 million in the red.

If the board goes in that direction, a referendum could appear on the April 2014 ballot, according to Van Pelt's timeline.

Increased class sizes are possible, too.

District 41 has four elementary schools -- Pleviak, B.J. Hooper, William L. Thompson and Olive C. Martin -- and one middle school, Palombi.

About 483 kids attended Pleviak this year. An estimated 558 kids attended Hooper, including 33 in an early childhood program.

Thompson had about 536 students this year, including 10 in an early childhood program. About 603 kids attended Martin.

Van Pelt blamed the district's financial struggles on two things: a reduction in state funding and an ongoing enrollment drop, which he said also has resulted in less state funding.

Districtwide enrollment was down about 400 kids from a peak experienced in the 2007-08 term, officials have said.

Van Pelt called the two conditions "a perfect storm."

"Essentially, we're getting hit from two sides simultaneously," he told the crowd.

Pleviak was the best option for closure, Van Pelt said, because it's the oldest building and has limited accessibility because it's two stories, among other factors.

"We don't have any other building that has two floors," Van Pelt said.

By their questions, board members seemed more concerned about the grade configurations than Pleviak's fate.

The board took no action Tuesday.

A community meeting on the proposal is planned for 7 p.m. June 3 at Palombi, 133 McKinley Ave., Lake Villa.

The board will discuss the proposals again June 10 and June 24 and Palombi. A vote is expected June 24.

Both of those meetings are set for 7 p.m.

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