To the Editor:
There are a lot of unanswered questions about Woodstock Community Unit School District 200’s proposal to close Dean Street Elementary School.
How much will the closure save taxpayers? The district hasn’t said, but a best-guess estimate is only about $60 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house if the cost savings are used to reduce the tax levy.
Will that be the case? Will the school be sold or mothballed? How will that affect surrounding property values? How many people will lose their jobs? How will this affect class sizes at other schools in the long term?
The most significant unanswered question, however, is what is the public benefit of closing the school? If the school board takes the drastic action of closing a neighborhood school, it should be prepared to clearly articulate why the closure is in the common good. The school board has not yet made the case that closing Dean is going to improve anyone’s life or make this a better community.
In fact, the opposite case can be made. Closing neighborhood schools has a negative effect not just on that school’s students, but on the entire community.
Schools are part of the fabric of a community. They’re part of what makes our town more than a collection of roads and buildings. It’s time for us to ask ourselves: Do we value that sense of connection to the people we live with more than a $5 per month tax cut?