More Opposition Voiced In Second Sorento School Hearing

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Approximately 60 to 75 people attended the second public hearing in as many days on the topic of closing the Sorento School Thursday evening. The Bond County Unit 2 School Board hosted the hearing in the auditorium of Greenville High School.

As he did in the initial meeting, Superintendent Wes Olson said the district enrollment has declined, the cost of doing business is going up and shortages exist in the labor market. He is recommending Sorento School be closed.

Olson said the recommendation is for the school to be closed at the end of this school year and reallocate staff and student resources to provide targeted intervention and support that align with the needs of Unit 2 students. He said certified positions could be added to directly address learning loss and the social/emotional needs of students.

Around 15 people spoke, nearly all of whom were from Sorento, had children who attended Sorento School, who had attended themselves, a few who currently attended, and one employee.

Laura Wall, of Sorento, a former Unit 2 School Board member, was one of several who spoke about the ethics of the situation and the message the board was sending to the community. She said she wished one of the town hall meetings would have been held in Sorento. She said she knows the request was made and the board opted against it. She said the message the board is sending to the public is either it’s not worth their time to drive there or they’ve already made their decision. She also pointed out that two board members were not in attendance and were missing comments and information necessary to make a decision.

Wall questioned why the hearings were held in the first place, before the topic was brought up in a public meeting. She said the topic came up two years ago when she served on the board, but there are four new members now.

Click below to hear her comments:

Several individuals talked about the positive impact a small school can have on students, particularly in a close knit community, including current Unit 2 Board Member, Stephanie Gerl, of Sorento.

She said busing students to another community will decrease local support and parental involvement. She said it would also impact students’ involvement in all types of extracurricular activities. She noted with a seven hour day in school and two hours a day on a bus, the kids would be less inclined to participate and parents would be less inclined to put in the extra effort, expenses, and time that would be required. Gerl called it an injustice to students who have the potential to excel.

Click below to hear more:

A third public hearing on the potential closing of Sorento School will be held Wednesday, December 22, at 6:55 PM, prior to the school board’s regular meeting, in the Unit 2 High School auditorium.

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