Dear Editor:

To the administration and school board of West Carroll School District 314:

As taxpayers, we appreciate the administration and school board’s efforts to manage the district’s fiscal and business activities in a cost-effective manner and to be responsible stewards of the district’s assets. And we realize what a challenge this is in today’s environment given the state of Illinois’ history of inadequate funding of public education.

As a result, West Carroll District 314, as well as schools throughout the state, have been forced to be creative and in many cases resort to radical measures to balance their fiscal responsibilities and educational objectives. The recent 2019 Enrollment & Facility Planning Study commissioned by West Carroll seems like one such example.

Given the challenges of declining enrollment, inadequate funding, and aging buildings and equipment, we would expect the administration and board to examine the pros and cons of the broadest possible range of alternatives to determine the best path going forward to achieve the district’s educational objectives in the most cost-effective manner possible.

The 2019 Enrollment & Facility Planning Study presented at the Nov. 20 West Carroll School Board meeting focuses on one approach — building reorganization. The study appears to be a justification that fits the pre-conceived narrative that building reorganization is the only way forward.

Though the study was professionally done and very factual in nature, we believe it to be too narrow in scope to be the sole basis for such a critical decision as closing a school and forcing the relocation of a significant number of teachers, staff and students.

In addition, we believe that several of the conditions described in the report and the costs to mitigate these conditions are overstated or that there are less costly alternative solutions that need to be explored.

The study’s primary focus is clearly economic. The phrase “improve the economic future of the District” is used prominently in both the introduction and conclusion to the study, but there is almost no reference or discussion throughout the study regarding the impacts to “quality of education” issues.

We believe that the administration and school board should slow down and undertake a more thorough and objective investigation of the pros and cons of not only the building reorganization approach, but also other alternatives, including retaining the current high school.

We believe that the administration and school board owe it to our respective communities to examine every possible alternative from both an economic and quality of education perspective in a fair and objective way. That is the only means to ensure an ultimate solution that is fiscally responsible, educationally sound and broadly acceptable to the residents of District 314.

Dave and Kay Engaldo