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'It should be a partnership'

PRINCETON — A Tiskilwa resident has asked the Princeton Elementary School Board to involve parents and the community before making any decision to close Reagan Middle School in Tiskilwa.

At Monday's board meeting, Vanessa Hoffeditz said the board needs input from the parents and community before making its decision.

"It should be a partnership, so the decisions you are making are done with us as parents and not to us as parents ... The decisions you are making should be done with the community, not to the community," Hoffeditz said.

The issue is much broader than just closing Reagan, but also involves a discussion to not replace 12 certified teachers and four non-certified teachers in the next three years, Hoffeditz said. Fewer teachers mean larger class sizes. In the long run, the issue is really about the quality of education that PES students are receiving, she said.

In her opinion, the changes the board are considering in its three-year plan are just a Band-aid for the more long-term problem of getting more revenue into the district. There needs to be more long-term funding streams to consider with an increase of taxes as one option, she said.

Hoffeditz said the school board also needs to realize its decisions will affect the community at large. She believes people come to the community because they want jobs and a good education for their children.

"You as the elementary school district are not in a vacuum," Hoffeditz said. "You are part of this community, and the decisions you make affect the community at large."

In summary, Hoffeditz said she is willing to help in anyway she can, and she thinks there are other parents who would help as well.

"My plea as you move forward is to involve us as parents, engage us, and engage this community. They support every cause known to man in this community, and why not support the greatest cause of all — the education of our children?" she said.

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the PES Board has discussed the possibility of closing Reagan Middle School for the past few months as a cost-savings measure. The closing of Reagan has been projected to save the district an estimated $90,000 in transportation costs, as well as other savings in custodial staff, bus fleet reduction and bus service reduction. The board has asked Superintendent Tim Smith to bring a recommendation to the board at its September meeting.

At Monday's board meeting, Smith presented the board with a two-year building cost review for Reagan Middle School. For Fiscal Year 2012, the district had a total of $164,469 in expenses, which included $42,525 for custodian salary and benefits and $26,567 for roof work. For Fiscal Year 2013, the district had a total of $109,996 in expense, which included $43,630 in custodian salary and benefits.

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