HOOPESTON– This nearly 100 year-old school may not be around for much longer. The Honeywell Grade Center in Hoopeston needs some major renovations, but officials say those might cost too much, so they’re talking about tearing it down. For many in Hoopeston, it’s an emotional decision.
“It’s pretty amazing, and I really like my teacher.”
There’s only one place 9 year-old Addison Lewis says she’d rather be than school.
“I would be at my friend Claire’s, but she’s in Disney World right now, so I’m a little upset about that.”
Hoopeston isn’t Disney World, but it is home, just like the Honeywell Grade Center has been home to students like Addison for 89 years– including her father.
“I went to kindergarten, third, and fourth grade here. I remember when my dad said he went here too, so it’s been here a long time.”
“There’s several upgrades that need to be done that we’ll look forward to in the future if we keep the building open.”
That’s why superintendent Hank Hornbeck says this meeting needed to happen– to brief the public on the situation. Officials say keeping Honeywell’s doors open may require almost $700,000 worth of renovations, not to mention the building’s less than ideal layout.
“It gets a little difficult, with the gym being in the middle of the building. All the noise all the time kind of takes away from some of the education that could occur.”
Honeywell houses Hoopeston’s third and fourth graders. If the building’s retired, officials say students would be moved to other schools with enough space to accommodate them.
“It’s unfortunate, but I understand where they’re coming from, too. Whether it’s gonna cost that much to get it fixed up or not, they’ve got the means to send them to the other schools in town.”
“Umm, I don’t know. I really like this school, and it’s pretty amazing, so I don’t want it to get knocked down.”
The district’s buildings committee says their official recommendation to the school board is to tear the building down and consolidate the students into other schools. The board will talk about that at a meeting in a few weeks.
The district says consolidating students into other schools would be possible because their enrollment has been dropping. So has Hoopeston’s population. About 5,300 hundred people live there. The district estimates that’s down by more than 100 since 2010.