OREGON – A citizens advisory board told the Oregon Community Unit School District 220 board at a special meeting on Aug. 2 that keeping David L. Rahn Junior High School open is the right decision.
During a presentation that lasted more than an hour, advisory board members told the school board that the costs to repair the school are lower than cited by district Superintendent Dr. Thomas Mahoney. The presentation also showed that rising property tax revenues will allow the district to “operate from a position of financial strength for many years to come, even if DLR remains open,” said Phil Labash, Mount Morris village president.
“We also showed that overall fund balances have grown over the past two years indicating that the OCUSD has been able to ‘bank’ money in reserve,” he said. “This is a clear indication that the district is not in financial trouble. “
The board will make a final decision on Aug. 16, Mahoney said.
It was Mahoney who recommended to the school board at a meeting in May that the district consider closing LDR. He said that the decision to recommend closing the school came down to money, with the district spending more than it is taking in. He also said the school needs fixes that would cost between $2 million and $6 million.
The plan would be to have the roughly 200 students who now attend DLR go to Oregon High School. Mahoney said the building has room to accommodate the students.
Advisory board member Rob Urish said that the board listened “carefully and thoughtfully” to the presentation. He said he hopes that, ultimately, the board will reject the recommendation to close DLR.
That is also the hope of Labash.
“I believe that the board will vote to keep DLR open in light of this information,” he said.
During the presentation, the advisory board said that the costs to repair DLR would be “considerably less” than the higher end Mahoney suggested. It said that immediate repairs would total $20,000, with required repairs coming in at $385,000.
Labash said based on the presentation from the advisory board showing that the repair costs are much less and the tax revenue future more positive, Mahoney should change his mind.
“His assertion, all along, has been that this move is only being done to address pressing financial concerns,” Labash said. “We were able to show this is no longer the case and will not be in the foreseeable future. The right move is to take this proposal off the table and to invest in DLR and the long-term future of our students and school district.”