CRESCENT CITY, Ill., (WCIA) — Some junior high students in Iroquois County may go to another school next year. It comes after Crescent City Grade School is facing teacher shortages and limited extracurriculars. The question to deactivate and close part of the school will be on ballots on Tuesday.
This school year, Rod Grimsley, the superintendent, said 66 students from kindergarten through eighth grade attend the school. All three teachers who teach 6-8th grades came back to the classroom even after retiring.
Julie Dunn, a junior high history teacher at the school, said her class sizes are so small that she feels her students are missing out on key social and academic parts of school.
“It’s time for them to have a larger environment,” she said.
Some of her classes are as small as three students.
She taught at Unit 9 in Watseka for 27 years before answering the call and temporarily coming out of retirement this year when Crescent City had a teacher shortage.
Dunn said this year has been challenging and she wants to see her students in a bigger environment with more options. Right now, she has three students in her eighth-grade history class.
She’s voting “yes” on her Iroquois County ballot when asked if they should deactivate the junior high part of the school.
“They will have clubs, they will have art, they will have music. As well as an academic setting that gives them a different peer perspective with having a little bit larger classroom,” Dunn said.
If it closes, Grimsley said families will have the option to choose between Cissna Park, Watseka, or Iroquois West instead.
“We felt like this would be the best for our students moving forward,” he said.
Each of those schools offers not only more core classes but also a variety of extracurricular activities. Those vary between sports, math team, yearbook, scholastic bowl, music, speech and student council. All things CCGS can not offer their students at this time.
“We just don’t feel like our kids are getting exposed enough to the different social opportunities that they could have,” Grimsley added. “Also, social health. We do not have social workers on staff here.”
He said there would be no impact on teachers because all who currently teach 6-8th grade would go back to retirement. If the changes happen, the school would be kindergarten through fifth grade starting next year.
Stephanie Rippe, a first-grade teacher at CCGS, said she’s filled in for some junior high classes before because they are short teachers. But, she’s also a mom with students in the district.
She said she wants her daughter to be able to participate in clubs and music.
“She loves the marching band, so she’s definitely looking forward to that,” Rippe said.
Steve Massey, the school board’s president, said all seven members of the board are in agreement with the decision to deactivate the junior high.
Grimsley said they’ve looked into this motion before, but COVID acted as a roadblock and stopped them from moving forward.
If it isn’t passed, he said they’re not sure how they’ll adjust.