Residents unhappy with the possible closure of Mt. Morris Jr. High school

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OREGON, Ill. (WTVO) — Oregon School Board members hear a proposal that recommends closing the district’s junior high building, but not everyone supports the idea.

We were at tonight’s meeting where some community members say the school should stay open because of its history.

There were mixed reactions from community members. Critics of the idea say it would have a devastating impact on Mt. Morris residents.

“I’m going to be making a recommendation to close our junior high school, David Junior High School in Mt. Morris,” said Dr. Tom Mahoney, District 220’s Superintendent.

It’s a recommendation superintendent Dr. Mahoney says wasn’t easy to put together. But he says it’s necessary to balance the district’s budget.

“Over the last 5 years we’ve averaged each year a $400,000 deficit in our operating funds which means we’ve decreased our fund over $2 million in the last 5 years,” he added.

If approved, junior high students would be moved to Oregon High School.

“I’ve had some people email me in support and some people email me and ask me to keep a school open in Mt. Morris because they didn’t want to see a school close in Mt. Morris,” explained Dr. Mahoney.

Monday evening, residents got the chance to voice their opinion. Many said they were disappointed to hear about the possible closure.

“There’s no equity in all our parents having to drive back and forth with their kids on busses taking business away from the community when there are no sporting events, no parents coming to town for those events. It’s hard on the economy,” said Mt. Morris resident Mary Francis.

“I attended Blackhawk Junior High, which was what it was called then, and now it’s David L. Rahn Junior High. My dad actually went there when it was a high school. It’s been around a long time I think this school has too,” said another resident Melissa.

Mahoney says the situation is dire and believes this is the best course of action

“My pledge has always been to always keep that building open for as long as I could and be fiscally responsible I’m just at the point now I don’t want to lose anymore staff and impact students and that’s the only way we can balance the budget,” he added.

There will be another informational town hall meeting on May 27. Mahoney says the board could vote on the proposal next month.

If approved the school would close following the 2021-2022 school year.

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