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Article updated: 6/25/2013 10:40 AM

Lake Villa's Pleviak School to close

Lake Villa district hindered by deficit, low enrollment

By Russell Lissau

J.J. Pleviak Elementary School will close after the 2013-14 school year concludes, the Lake Villa Elementary District 41 board decided Monday.

The vote -- prompted by a $1.8 million budget deficit and declining enrollment across the district was expected. But that didn't make it easy for the board members.

"I don't think there's one of us that enjoyed that," board President Michael Conway said after the 6-0 vote at the Palombi Middle School auditorium. "But it's a decision we had to make."

Board members also were supposed to decide whether the grade levels of the district's remaining three elementary schools should be reconfigured, but they put off that vote due to concerns about class sizes and other issues.

Officials discussed drafting parent and staff surveys on the matter. That likely would wait until teachers return to work in August, as would a vote on realignment.

One option would maintain the current alignment for B.J. Hooper, William L. Thompson and Olive C. Martin schools. Each serves kindergartners through sixth-graders.

A second option would have two buildings serve kindergartners through fourth-graders and one serve fifth- and sixth-graders.

Palombi Middle, which serves seventh- and eighth-graders, isn't affected by either option.

Board member Kurt Hansen was among those who wanted more time to consider the issue.

"I feel we haven't asked enough of the right questions of the administration about the growth of class sizes," he said.

Board member Michele Hawksworth said she was disappointed in the board for not reviewing predictions about the options' impacts on class sizes earlier.

"I am angry that we have wasted (the) time of our community," she said.

Closing Pleviak could save District 41 nearly $1.2 million annually, officials have said. Its students will attend other schools, and most of the teachers will be retained at other schools, too.

Some staffers will lose their jobs, officials said.

The board will discuss grade realignment again when it meets in July.

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