Unit 2 Board Votes To Close Sorento School

The fate of Sorento School was determined Wednesday night by the Bond County Community Unit 2 Board of Education and the school will close at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.

The action was taken after the fourth public hearing was held for residents to comment about the possible closure of the school.

The motion was to close the school, with all students currently attending Sorento to be assigned between Pocahontas and Greenville Elementary, based on new boundary lines to be established in the future.

It passed 4-2 with Ryan Reavis absent. Voting to close the school were Brian Zeeb, Nate Prater, Randi Workman and Adam Simmonds. The “no” votes were from Stephanie Gerl and Aimee Frey.

Zeeb made the motion and talked about why he did, noting there are 107 students at Sorento. He pointed out the board has already combined third and fourth grades at Pocahontas and Sorento due to the lack of students, which was after the board voted for open enrollment in hopes of bolstering enrollment at both centers.

Zeeb said he believes there is a financial cliff ahead as the cost of business goes up along with inflation. He noted the district had a deficit budget prior to the additional funds and when they disappear he said the board will have its work cut out for it to balance the budget. Zeeb said the district needs to do more with less and be good stewards.

“In closing, an individual asked, ‘Do you want your legacy to be that you closed Sorento School’,” he said. “And to that individual I’d say, ‘No, I want my legacy to be that I wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions that were fair, equitable, and fiscally responsible.”

Click below to hear more:

Superintendent Wes Olson said decisions still have to be made regarding Sorento staff and students. Information presented by him was up to five certified employees may be reduced.

After the vote of the board, several in the audience shouted out to board members, unhappy about the decision.

The first person to speak during the public hearing was Attorney Michelle Coady Carter, who warned the board that closing the school would lead to legal proceedings against the district. She said she was representing the interests of several Sorento parents and children who would be adversely impacted by the board’s intended action. She said any action taken by the board would not comply with the Open Meetings Act and would not be a valid decision.

Click below to hear her comments:

Over 140 people attended the hearing and regular school board meeting.

After the board came out of closed session, several Sorento students lined up, holding cardboard signs in support of their school. Only minutes later a vote was taken to close the school.

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