Mount Morris residents facing closure of middle school

Local News

MOUNT MORRIS, Ill. (WTVO) — The David L. Rahn Middle School in Mount Morris is no longer financially viable, according to district administrators.

Some Mount Morris residents have been trying to find a solution to keep the school open.

“I think the school board wants to do what’s right for the students, and they certainly want to do what’s right financially for the district. I think up until now, they’ve really felt torn between those two,” said Mount Morris Village President, Phil Labash.

For the past sixty days, members of a citizen’s advisory committee have been busy working on a proposal that would allow for the school to remain open.

They made their case to the Oregon School Board during a public hearing on Monday evening.

“I think, moving forward, we can show them a way where our students can stay in a facility that is there specifically for them, during some of their most critical years, seventh and eighth grade, and they can do it at no financial detriment to the district,” Labash said.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Mahoney first recommended the closure in May. At the time, he said the district had been operating at a budget deficit for the past four years, and suggested that middle school students could move into the high school in Oregon, to help combat the financial woes.

Rob Urish, with the advisory committee, said increasing property values in the area could lead to more revenue for the district.

“It looks very promising, that in the next two or three years, the tax base for the consolidated school district will increase, rather substantially,” Urish said.

Another concern to the school board was the cost of repairs to the middle school, which Mahoney said would cost about $6 million, to bring the building up to modern safety standards.

Urish said, based on his research, the renovations could be done for less.

“It’s a solid building, it’s not a building that’s about to implode,” Urish said. “Yes, it needs some work done on it, but all buildings of that vintage need work. We just don’t see that closing it down is nothing more than losing a $20 million dollars asset.”

The school board is expected to make a final determination, on whether the middle school will close, at the next board meeting, scheduled for August 16th.

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