SAVANNA – Declining enrollment and a deteriorating high school building is forcing a big question for West Carroll schools.
The district is considering moving its high school students from the older high school campus in Savanna to the more modern Mount Carroll campus, which currently houses middle school grades.
In August, the school board hired Grund and Riesterer Architects of Chicago to conduct an enrollment and feasibility study, which was completed in November. The study details a litany of issues – bad plumbing, a boiler leak, broken floor tiles with asbestos, mold on the ceiling of the electrical room, flooding of the football field, and the need of a new roof – and suggests moving students to West Carroll Middle School.
An estimate conducted by Shales McNutt Construction of Elgin put a complete renovation of the high school at $7.39 million.
The study suggests that grades seven and up be housed at the middle school building, and prekindergarten to sixth grade at West Carroll Primary School in Savanna.
The board has yet to act on a decision, but already residents are voicing concerns about the school at recent board meetings, particularly those from Savanna, where signs have been posted along streets in support of keeping schools in all three towns.
A private Facebook page titled “Retain all 3 West Carroll School Buildings” has been established.
Responses to questions posed in November were provided in writing by Superintendent Julie Katzenberger in the December board agenda packet on the district website.
Savanna Mayor Chris Lain attended the Dec. 18 board meeting and released a statement Saturday on Facebook “strongly condemning” the proposal, stating that it not only will effect his city, but Mount Carroll and Thomson as well.
“All three communities are taking steps for future growth,” Lain wrote. “The City of Savanna, the city council, and myself have been working hard to attract additional businesses, encourage growth among those we have and encourage new industry to locate here.
“This is not a time to think of shrinking our schools.”
The middle school was built in 1998 and originally was Mount Carroll High School before the West Carroll district was formed in 2005 with the consolidation of districts in Mount Carroll, Savanna and Thomson. The current high school housed Savanna High School from 1959 until the consolidation.
High school enrollment has dropped from near 450 at the time of the consolidation to 302 this year. Enrollment also has fallen in the district’s other two buildings.
Merging the high school and middle school campuses would put the school in Mount Carroll at 86% capacity, and the primary school in Savanna at 84% capacity.
West Carroll School District’s 2019 Enrollment and Facility Planning Study, as well as question-and-answer information from Superintendent Julie Katzenberger is posted on the district’s website.
Go to shawurl.com/3c97 for the 49-page study, and shawurl.com/3c99 for the Q-and-A.
The West Carroll School Board next meets at 5:30 Wednesday at the district office, 642 S. East St. in Mount Carroll.
An agenda will be posted on the district website, wc314.org, no later than 48 hours before the meeting.
Call 815-734-3374 for more information.
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