URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The Wiley Elementary School building has been closed for asbestos removal, leaving families with questions about the future. Now, the Urbana School Board has finalized a plan for the school.
Earlier this year, parents showed up to board meetings during public comment with emotional testimonies on why the elementary school should re-open after renovations are completed.
There were several ideas and options for the school that were tossed around. Tuesday night, the board voted 4 to 3 to convert Wiley into a sixth grade-only school.
Lindsey Amaraegbu said her son, who has autism, will benefit from a sixth grade-only school, as opposed to him going to Urbana Middle School. She said overcrowding would make going to the middle school very difficult for her son.
“I’ve been in the hallways. I’ve seen what it’s like in there, and it’s scary. Even as an adult,” she said.
However, some people disagreed with the change to Wiley. Jennifer Hixson said the school board should have taken more time with their decision.
“I would have looked at all the solutions differently, and certainly I would have tried to bring parents along. I think parents felt deceived,” Hixson said.
She said changing grades in schools and moving students around isn’t going to fix what’s really wrong in the district.
“The next problem that comes up, I think we should be looking at how will it affect academic achievement.”
Hixson said she doesn’t fully disagree with this new plan for Wiley, but with almost two years until it is scheduled to reopen, she said there is more time to look at all the options.
Amaraegbu said she is happy for her son, but she understands other parents’ concerns.
“Transitioning is always hard, and when you have a school that you love and that your child is doing so well at, that would be super hard on that family and that community,” she said.
The school board said asbestos abatement should be done in December. They are also making other renovations to the decades-old building. The sixth grade learning center is set to open in fall 2025.