Burlington residents will have several opportunities in the coming weeks to learn about the plan to close one school building and realign several others. The Burlington School District has said it must "right-size" due to declining enrollment.
The district currently maintains five elementary schools (Blackhawk, Corse, Grimes, North Hill, & Sunnyside), two middle schools (Aldo Leopold & Edward Stone), and Burlington High School.
Business Manager Greg Reynolds said the buildings are operating far below capacity.
“That’s the result of the declining enrollments,” said Reynolds. “We are serving 550 fewer kids than we were four years ago. So that’s a fairly significant decline.”
Data from the Iowa Department of Education shows that during the 2012/2013 school year, the district served 4,214 students. That number has dipped each year to 3,665 in 2017/2018.
Reynolds says some of the students open-enroll into a neighboring district, such as West Burlington or Danville. But he said the vast majority simply left the city.
The decline prompted the district to hire a firm, BLDD Architects (Davenport) to review its school buildings and determine what would be the best use of the existing facilities. The top three proposals require the closure of an elementary school and the re-use of the remaining elementary and middle schools.
- Four schools (PreK – 4th grade), One school (5th – 6th grade), One school (7th – 8th grade)
- Two schools (PreK – 1st grade), Two schools (2nd – 4th grade), One school (5th – 6th grade), One school (7th – 8th grade)
- Four schools (PreK – 4th grade); Two schools (5th – 8th grade)
The proposals will be presented to the public during a series of community forums.
- Oct. 24 – Burlington High School – 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
- Oct. 27 – Burlington High School – 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
- Oct. 29 – Edward Stone Middle School – 9:00 a.m.-11:00 am.
The district released details about the forums this week.
Attendees will visit three stations during each forum where they will be presented with information from the district and/or the architectural firm.
- Station 1 – Purpose of the meeting/why “right-sizing” is being considered/review goal of “right-sizing”
- Station 2 – Explain findings of the building assessment/choices that have been developed/opportunity for questions
- Station 3 – Face-to-Face Surveys/Electronic Survey/Paper-and-Pencil Survey
An input session for staff members will be held prior to the community forum on Oct. 24.
Reynolds said the information gathered during the public input session will be compiled and used to help the school board make its decision regarding the realignment/closure. He said the school most likely to close is Corse Elementary, adding that the closure would likely result in a reduction in staff due to the need for fewer employees in fewer buildings.