With what several called “heavy hearts,” the majority of the Davenport School Board voted Monday night in favor of closing Lincoln Elementary School.
Citing budget concerns, which have been discussed at length for several months in the Davenport Community School District, the board voted 5-2 to save more than $1 million by closing the underutilized neighborhood school at the end of this school year.
Board members Larry Roberson and Nikki DeFauw voted against the resolution.
The board also voted without discussion — on a 6-1 vote — to approve the 2012-2013 budget, with a property tax levy rate of $17.04996 per $1,000 taxable valuation. The budget is based on cutting more than $3 million in permanent reductions and a one-time $2 million funding switch for insurance premium payments, discussed last week at a committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Roberson voted “no” on the budget, as well.
“I’m very sad,” Roberson said about the Lincoln decision. “Closing schools is not a way to grow your school district. It is not a way to grow your city.
“I thought we rushed,” he continued. “We didn’t take enough time to look at things. I thought we should have said as a board, ‘We could do better.’ You know, what if it had become an academy that’s about math and science on one level and business on another level? Would there have been outsiders wanting to come there? We will never know.”
Roberson said the district could have made other budget reductions that were necessary without closing a school. He said he was especially sad to know losing Lincoln will affect students involved in a special Focus program housed there for students with behavioral and emotional disorders.
Superintendent Art Tate has said that program will not continue in its current form when Lincoln closes, although those students’ needs will be served in other ways.
Board member Patt Zamora reminded the board that keeping Lincoln open isn’t a good fiscal decision, with so few students enrolled there. She said merging that school’s population with the also-underutilized J.B. Young Intermediate School, which Tate has proposed, is a better use of both facilities.
However, DeFauw said she doesn’t want the district to jump into a new educational model at J.B. Young without considering other ideas for Lincoln school.
Board member Bill Sherwood called Tate’s idea for J.B. Young “innovative,” and he supports it.
“The financial situation in the district is what this is all about,” board member Ken Krumwiede said. “We were elected to be fiscally responsible. Our superintendent and his staff, I believe, have come up with a creative idea of putting those two schools together and better utilizing the facilities that we have in this district.”