CHANNAHON – The Channahon District 17 school board could take a vote next month on whether to close Pioneer Path school.
The future of Pioneer Path as well as the search for a new school superintendent were discussed at a school board work session on Monday.
The board is looking at the possibility of closing Pioneer Path for the 2016-17 school year.
District enrollment has steadily declined for a few years and the trend is expected to continue. The board has discussed withdrawing students from Pioneer Path and operating only three schools. Administrative offices would remain in the building.
“This district could fit students comfortably in three buildings,” Superintendent Karin Evans said.
The move out of Pioneer Path would save the district a few hundred thousand dollars a year on overhead costs alone, at least one board member estimates. Evans said she believes leasing out the space would not be difficult. She knows of at least two area organizations looking for such a site.
Evans presented the board with two possible consolidation options, both phasing Pioneer Path out by the 2016-2017 school year. One plan adds third grade to N.B. Galloway School and adds fourth grade to Three Rivers School. Channahon Junior High School would remain with two grades.
The other option involves keeping Galloway as is, changing Three Rivers from fifth and sixth grades to grades third through fifth, and adding sixth grade to the junior high.
Administrators and the board leaned toward the first option, saying the junior high would not be readily adaptable to adding sixth grade. The board asked Evans to put school consolidation on next month’s agenda for more discussion and a possible vote.
The next scheduled board meeting is 7 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Pioneer Path.
Evans is set to retire June 30, 2015, and the school board will begin searching for her replacement this fall. Members discussed whether to hire a search firm to find and vet candidates.
The cost of hiring a search firm, Evans said, would be at least $10,000 to $15,000, but a firm would help the board set its priorities.
Board member Joan Ferguson said she thought the board could do the search on its own, and Jim Bogacz thought an initial job posting might produce qualified candidates. But in the end, the majority settled on hiring a firm.
Evans said she would present three search agencies to the board for interviews.
Once a search firm identifies candidates, the school board will conduct candidate interviews. A group of one or more teachers, principals, paraprofessionals and community members would also provide input.
Evans said potential candidates from Will County have already expressed interest.
“It’s an attractive district,” she said.
Galloway lunchroom changes pursued
Finally Monday, the board also decided to make modifications to N.B. Galloway, a measure considered for the past year. The school’s lunchroom doubles as a gymnasium, and the physical education program stops for two hours mid-day to allow for lunch.
The board authorized an architectural firm to devise plans to convert Galloway’s lunchroom to a gym and to build a new lunchroom to also serve as a multi-purpose room.
The project cost, estimated by DLA Architects, would be $1.1 million, not including furniture.