Davenport Community School District held an open forum at their school board meeting December 5. Buchanan, Monroe and Washington elementary schools could be on the chopping block within the district. There are plans to shut the three elementary schools down.
The district is trying to cut down on finances by closing the three elementary schools, which could save the district over $20 million in maintenance costs. Monroe and Washington elementary school buildings have both become too old to maintain. It would be more difficult and expensive to improve upon the small existing classrooms in the facilities already. Maintenance costs for Monroe Elementary alone would be over $10 million.
The closing of the three schools would also save the district over $10 million over the next 20 years in bussing expenses for students. Truman Elementary has had the most recent investments put into the school for building improvements.
Buchanan Elementary has low enrollment because of its location. All three of the elementary schools are not close in proximity to existing intermediate schools. Other schools close by like Truman, Fillmore and Harrison elementary schools are more aligned with primary access routes.
Ann McGlynn is a mother who has had multiple children go through the Davenport School District over the years. “I believe that one of the root reasons is that the state of Iowa has funded Davenport schools at a lesser level than other school districts in the community,” McGlynn said. “My question to the school board, but also to our community at large, is why are we closing schools that kids who have fewer resources and more barriers in their lives attend?”
While she knows it could be an uphill battle trying to stop the schools closures, McGlynn said her main concern is making sure the school board keeps the children in mind when making these decisions. “And one more request – there’s a great playground at each of these schools,” McGlynn said. “If those could stay put so kids can come and play, that would be really great.”
“Yes, it is difficult, and we must do it. We have to do it,” Schneckloth said. “And the answer is, if it’s not this building, it’s this building. So, the way we do that, is we use data.”
If the school board decides to the close the three schools, there would be no major initial concern about moving students and staff to new locations, as there would be no construction needed at other schools to accommodate the added people.
Once sixth grade moves back to the middle school buildings, it will allow for the creation of pre-schools within elementary buildings. Sixth grade would go back to middle schools in the school year of 2024-25.
The Davenport school board will make their decision on the closing of the schools Monday, December 12.