Declining enrollment and building capacity prompted School District 27J officials to announce a new purpose for North Elementary School. The school is in the first block of North Sixth Avenue. The …
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Declining enrollment and building capacity prompted School District 27J officials to announce a new purpose for North Elementary School.
The school is in the first block of North Sixth Avenue. The repurposing is part of the district’s plans to address declining enrollment in that attendance area.
“The decision to repurpose North Elementary is one no school community wants to hear, particularly one as historic, dedicated, accomplished, and proud as the North Elementary School community,” said Superintendent Chris Fiedler in a press statement.
The district has not finalized the repurposing plan for the school. Officials want to use the space to continue serving students’ needs and families’ needs in the area. Some ideas under consideration are satellite offices for organizations’ programs and services in the community, more recreational activities and after-school programs and using the location as a summer meal pick-up location.
“Unfortunately, all the data from our planning department indicates that we will continue to see a decline in enrollment and building capacity utilization for the foreseeable future. With no new development planned, we believe that the current downward enrollment trends will continue.”
The statement said the district conducted Zoom calls with parents and staff to talk about questions and concerns before making the decision.
“The number of PK-5 students at North has significantly dropped over the past several years, going from 358 students in 2016 to 195 students in 2020,” the district’s press statement said.
Students at North will have the chance to enroll in other area schools, such as South, Northeast, Southeast, Pennock and Padilla for the rest of their time in elementary school. Educators and staff at North will remain employed in the district and be reassigned through the normal allocation process based on student enrollment, the district said.
Principal Kevin Purfurst will move to Padilla Elementary and open that school as principal in the fall of 2021, as originally planned.
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