URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Plans to close an Urbana elementary school next year stirred emotions in the board room Tuesday night. The administration says it needs to remove asbestos in the building, and families say they need to know whether Wiley Elementary will reopen after.

Student placement was one of the biggest points of contention. The administration’s proposed plan says the district has space between its other five elementary schools to absorb Wiley’s students and staff. But the community is worried about disruption and not being reunited again.

“All we have ever wanted is some support for Wiley. We were told no to this, and no for that – no, no, no. And now you want to close us down,” one speaker said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. She’s one of several staff members who joined families in fighting for the future of Wiley Elementary.

“Wiley parents deserve to know in advance if the forced move is temporary or permanent,” another speaker said.

The proposed $1.5 million plan says the facility is outdated, and it has become “increasingly difficult to maintain a safe and comfortable learning environment.” Speakers at the board meeting agreed Wiley needs renovations, but they begged the board to confirm its doors will open back up when they’re finished.

“Four out of five Wiley families are low income, and one out of five students have IEPs. These families deserve to know what’s ahead for them,” a speaker said.

The plan lays out several possibilities: Wiley could reopen as a neighborhood school, a “destination location” like a magnet or STEAM academy, become a site for the dual language school, a secondary middle school campus or new central office location.

“This is unheard of in my experience of over 20 years in Urbana to see a school go through this process,” a speaker said.

Speakers called Wiley a family, and said breaking them up permanently would have consequences for academic performance and staff retention.

“Staff will leave the district,” a speaker said. “I’ve heard some talk about it already. That scares me.”

Some simply asked to slow down.

“If I was planning to change jobs, I should have started the process in the fall. You have denied me that ability,” a speaker said.

Overwhelmingly, speakers said every family and every staff member deserves a voice – and they’re all just hoping to stick together.

“After looking at the presentation shared in advance of tonight’s meeting, I’m left feeling shocked and distressed,” a speaker said.

The board hasn’t made any final decisions yet, but the plan estimates the asbestos removal will be completed by the end of next school year.