Niles officials and residents collaborate to help improve schools

By: Sarah Platt
By: Sarah Platt

Niles residents and school officials are working together to come up with a plan to improve their schools.

Last February, the Niles community voted down a $105 million dollar building improvement referendum. People said it was simply too much money.

After the original plan was voted down, Niles Community Schools put a survey out to see what people were thinking.

The feedback they received was positive news for the school district.

Several people said the community really wants something done to improve schools, but they are very concerned about the price tag that goes along with that.

Luckily, the weather is nice and the children at Eastside Elementary can enjoy a fun recess outdoors.

However, on a rainy day, they would be indoors, back in a classroom or packed inside the small confines of the schools gym.

"The board's direction is taking a look at elementary schools and [trying to] come up with a plan that will give every student in Niles Schools, an equal kind of facility," says Niles Superintendent Doug Law.

Law says they are now focusing their proposed improvements on major maintenance issues and school security.

He also says they are especially concerned about traffic safety around the schools.

"Our schools were not built for anything near what we have for parents dropping off kids," says Law. "Even are local neighborhood schools, only 30% of those kids walk to their school or take a bus."

Niles Resident and Parent Kathy Zeider voted down the original proposed plan because she thought it was too costly for residents. She says she didn't like the idea of construction of a new high school and that she'd rather see improvements across the board in all schools.

"We need to be good stewards of what we already have" says Zeider. "We need to not repeat past mistakes by not putting money into things as boilers or other energy efficiencies that should have been improved along the years."

Niles School officials are now taking the survey information to the Steering Committee, who will present a recommendation to the Board of Education in December. That means, a vote could go to the public as early as May.

The bottom line: it looks like everyone is closer to agreeing on improvements.

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