Decatur school remains closed pending structural engineer report
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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s been more than a week since the Decatur School District temporarily closed two school buildings due to “structural concerns.” District leaders say they’re still waiting for a final report from a structural engineer regarding the Dennis Lab School.

District leaders still aren’t sharing exactly what the concerns are. School Board Vice President Jason Dion said while he can’t comment or give details on the situation, board members know the Dennis Lab School is on everyone’s minds. He said they’ll likely discuss it during the next meeting.

“I’m calling because I know there are some questions and concerns, as we know you’re hearing plenty of rumors regarding both Dennis campuses,” Superintendent Dr. Rochelle Clark said in a robocall to all Dennis Lab School staff members. “Administration asks that you remain patient until we receive the necessary information that will help direct and guide us with our discussions with the board.”

On May 31, the district said it was closing the Kaleidoscope and Mosaic campuses out of an abundance of caution. All staff members were asked to work remotely until June 5, but the closures have been extended pending a second opinion from a structural engineer. The district has not yet shared the findings of the first analysis of the buildings, which was sought earlier this spring.

“Again, we ask for your patience during this sensitive time, and know that the safety of Dennis students and staff is our top priority,” Clark said.

This comes after some Dennis families and staff members hoped the district would build them a new facility last year to merge the populations of both campuses and escape problems like a lack of space for sports and common areas. Plus, Dennis Lab School is described as the district’s oldest and most historic school.

“Dennis School has 112 years of history. But as an educator and an advocate for my students, I graciously ask that you consider building a school for the future,” a teacher said during public comment of a board meeting on August 9, 2022.

Ultimately, the board opted to spend Covid relief funds on a facility for a different school after weighing the need for repairs and upgrades to multiple buildings in the district.

“Bathrooms are small and double as a locker room without any lockers. Their cafeteria is not even big enough to have the middle school in there at one time. The gas leaks are unsafe, the pickup lines are dangerous. It is not fair that the teachers and students continue to make do,” a former student said during the August 9, 2022 meeting.

Chief Communications Officer Denise Swarthout said they expect the final report to come any day now. She also said they plan on sharing any new information they receive with families and staff.

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