Parents, teachers and other community members opposed school-closing options Tuesday at the second Davenport School District forum organized for the public to air concerns.
Speakers voiced opinions directly to Superintendent Art Tate, who responded to questions and comments.
Tate kicked off the forum at West High School with an explanation of the district's Vision 2020 "to present to the board and community a responsible and proactive plan which recognizes the past, current and future realities of enrollment, state legislative decisions, changing demographics and facility requirements."
He said that in 1993, the district had 18,000 students. It now has 15,000. Projections suggest that the district will lose another 600 students by 2023, he said.
In the last five years, expenditures for operating the district have increased by 17 percent, he said.
"The average increased funding we received from the state was 15 percent. The difference is $6.5 million," he said, adding that the district has made a total of $32.6 million in budget cuts in the last 10 years.
Since the 1970s, he said, the district has lost a total of $136 million because of an unequal funding formula.
He explained that factors board members consider when closing a school include the quality of education, cost of operation, safety of students and security, costs of necessary capital improvements and the effect on the community.
Among the speakers was Betsy Brandsgard, a 30-year resident of the Monroe neighborhood. Brandsgard, who has volunteered three years at Monroe, spoke as a concerned neighbor. She brought with her a petition with the signatures of 120 people "I collected in no time on Sunday" because people in the neighborhood feel passionately that closing Monroe "would be detrimental to that neighborhood."
Other speakers, including Kari Dugan, one of the organizers of the Davenport District Wide PTO, gave their opinions about supporting specific other schools and other district concerns.
The next public forum will be 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at North High School.