U-46 to close Garfield Elementary School at the end of this school year
Garfield Elementary School in Elgin will close at the end of this school year.
Elgin Area Unit District 46 officials have informed Garfield families of the looming closure. Students who would normally attend Garfield next year will attend either Channing or Huff elementary schools.
A recommendation to close the school, which dates back to 1887, was part of a five-year plan approved by board members in January. But a Friday letter was the first time the district publicly stated this would be the school's last year.
"This was a difficult decision based on the age and condition of the building, a declining enrollment down to only 266 students at Garfield this year, and available capacity at neighboring schools," Superintendent Tony Sanders wrote in the letter to parents.
No parents spoke about the school closing at Monday's board meeting, and a district official said there has been little feedback since Friday's letter.
District officials said they will work for a smooth transition and to honor the school's long history.
"It has been a U-46 school for more than 100 years," said Brian Lindholm, chief of staff for U-46. "We have families in the area who have sent generations of children to the school. We want to make sure they get a chance to get acquainted with the new schools this year and give some time to help with the transition."
District officials propose to send Garfield students who live north of Bent Street, or roughly 65% of the Garfield school population, to Channing Elementary. Students who live south of Bent Street, or about 35% of Garfield's enrollment, would go to Huff Elementary.
Most Garfield students still will live close enough to walk to their new schools next year, Lindholm said.
Board members are expected to vote on the proposed boundaries at their Oct. 24 meeting.
Lindholm said once boundaries are approved, families will receive letters indicating which school their children will attend next year, and principals at those schools will begin outreach efforts such as school visits. Garfield teachers may follow the district's reassignment process and apply for open positions in other areas of the district, Lindholm said.
District officials also are closing Hawk Hollow Elementary School in Bartlett this year to transition it to a middle school.
Prairieview Elementary School will take in roughly 80% of the students from Hawk Hollow next year. The remaining students will attend Spring Trail Elementary School.
Parents last year learned this would be Hawk Hollow's final year as an elementary school. Lindholm noted that there currently is no middle school serving that area of the district and that Hawk Hollow sits on 20 acres, making it easier to transform. The new middle school is slated to open for the 2024-25 school year.
Though Garfield will close at the end of this school year, Lindholm said the building may be used as a transition school as other aging schools in the district are rebuilt or refurbished.
A districtwide committee is reviewing the possibility of seeking voter approval to address repairs to the district's aging buildings. The committee is expected to provide a recommendation to the school board later this year. The earliest U-46 could put a referendum question on the ballot would be the April 2023 election.