Posts Tagged ‘peoria schools’

E.N. Woodruff High School after it closed in 2010. The closing of the school was supposed to cut costs and help the struggling District 150.

No matter if you’ve lived in Peoria your whole life or just recently moved here, most likely you have heard something regarding the woes of Peoria School District 150. A beloved high school, E.N. Woodruff High School, closed its doors much to the chagrin of the local community, especially alumni. The students were dispersed to the remaining high schools: Peoria, Manual, and Richwoods. Unfortunately, over the years, Woodruff’s enrollment had dropped, as had the school ratings. It scored a 2 out of 10 on Education.com’s rating the year before it closed (See the bottom to learn more about the scale). The closing of Woodruff was a way to cut costs for the struggling district. The district school board voted narrowly to close the school despite pleas by students, teachers, alumni, and members of the North Valley community. The night of the vote it was estimated that closing the legendary school would save $2.7 million in salaries and $800-900k in operating costs. There were some complaints that the number kept changing and getting smaller, giving members of the community the idea that maybe there were other options that should have been explored. Regardless, the closing of the high school showed that District 150 was seriously in trouble, all across the board.

Let’s start with elementary schools. According to Education.com, when ranking local elementary schools, there are a few schools in District 150 that have higher test scores. A few of the best are Kellar, Lindberg, and Hines. Washington Gifted School had the highest, which is to be expected, seeing that the kids are more gifted than the average child (or their parents push them harder to be the future breadwinners for the family; either way, the children seem to score better on tests). One can’t help but notice something when looking at the test ratings for each school; the farther away the school is from downtown, the better scores they have. Is this merely a coincidence? Most parents seem to think not. Eileen, a local mother, had something to say to echo this sentiment: “As far as schools go, the further away from Peoria the better. We moved to Morton to send my son to school. Yeah, we had to pay more for a place, but it would’ve been just as much as sending him to a private school here in Peoria, and we aren’t Catholic so our options were few.”

She is right; Morton Elementary School’s, while fewer, are all on the high end of the test ratings; in fact, none of the elementary schools scored below a 9 on a ten-point scale. Same with Dunlap and Metamora. District 150 is closing schools, while communities like Dunlap are growing exponentially; they are currently building a new school, Hickory Grove, to accommodate the growth. One doesn’t need to look up statistics to prove this trend. Driving through neighborhoods in the city of Peoria, there are countless for sale signs on houses in every neighborhood. In Dunlap and Morton, new neighborhoods are popping up left and right where cornfields used to stretch as far as the eye could see.

As for high schools, numbers speak louder than words. On that same ten-point scale, Morton High School and Dunlap scored tens, Metamora a nine, Peoria Richwoods an 8, East Peoria High a 4, and Peoria High and Manual rounded out the bottom with 2s. Richwoods was the best of the high schools in the Peoria metropolitan area, but still behind Dunlap, Metamora, and Morton. Has it always been this way? The consensus is no.

“When I was in high school there, Richwoods was the best school in the area. It was even better than Notre Dame (the local Catholic private school) because you could get college credit for classes you took, which you couldn’t do at ND. Now, I’ve sent my kids to ND even though we aren’t Catholic. That should tell you something,” said Jim, a local small business owner.

Okay, I’m going to stop spouting off numbers. I even stop paying attention when writing so many numbers, let alone you as readers reading them. The point here is that the Peoria schools are in trouble, while the communities outside of Peoria’s schools are only getting better. So are the communities themselves- the housing market is booming in areas like Dunlap, Morton, and Metamora, while the city of Peoria itself is facing a population decline. I postulate these two phenomenons are not unrelated. Many families are feeling the city of Peoria for its suburbs because of the better schools. So the only way that Peoria can possibly recover is by improving their local school district. Some may see closing Woodruff as the first step; others see it as a failed attempt to make it seem like the school board was actually doing something. There have been some shake-ups in the district, with new principals taking over that vow to change the schools for the better. Only time will tell, but for now, the school district has a lot to prove.

So let us know below and in the comments: Would you buy a house based on the superiority of the school district?

Sources: Education.com

The Education.com TestRating is a number (1-10) calculated by Education.com that provides an overview of a school’s test performance for a given year, by comparing the school’s state standardized test results to those of other schools in the same state. For Illinois, the TestRating is calculated using a school’s 2010 PSAE Results and ISAT Results for all subjects tested.

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