Dubuque school officials detail plan for students, staff after potential Fulton Elementary closing

Dubuque schools superintendent presented a plan Monday detailing what would happen with students and staff if an elementary school closes.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:01 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque schools superintendent presented a plan Monday detailing what would happen with students and staff if an elementary school closes.

The Dubuque Community School District is looking at closing Fulton Elementary at the end of the school year in an effort to reduce costs. Superintendent Stan Rheingans said low supplemental state aid, declining enrollment, and high inflation have left the district no choice but to explore the option of reducing the number of schools in the district.

”How did we get here? It is declining enrollment,” Rheingans started off.

The superintendent presented a chart at the school board meeting detailing a significant decline in enrollment in Dubuque elementary schools, particularly at Fulton Elementary, where it showed there has been a 32 percent decline in enrollment in the last six years. That is one of the reasons why the district is considering closing Fulton.

Rheingans mentioned he and his team spent the past week coming up with a plan as to what the district would do with the students who would be left without a school if Fulton were to close.

”I have heard concerns from families that, ‘My students are going to be in a really large classroom, lots of students per class,’ so we worked hard to make sure that that would not be the case,” he added.

Rheingans explained most Fulton students would move to one of three schools: Audubon, Eisenhower, or Prescott.

Audubon is a two-section school. If Fulton were to close, second and fourth grades at Audubon would become three-section grades. At Prescott, grades second through fifth would increase from two sections to three. At Eisenhower, fourth grade would become a four section class.

These increase in sections would allow the schools to stay within the board’s policy when it comes to class sizes. That policy is as follows:

  • Kindergarten and Grade 1: between 15 and 23 students
  • Grades 2 and 3: between 19 and 26 students
  • Grades 4 and 5: between 23 and 29 students

”Fulton is an excellent school,” Rheingans commented. “It has provided well for its students, it has provided well for its families, it has provided well for its staff. This has nothing to do with performance, it only has to do with the geography, the ability to take those same students and keep them in small class settings and the ability to be more efficient.”

District officials also presented a plan for staff, saying 100 percent of Fulton staff will get a job similar to the one they have now, just in another school building.

”We have promised the Fulton staff that they would get a list of all the current jobs that are open and any additional sections that we would be adding, so they would have the full picture,” Amy Hawkins, the district’s chief human resource officer and future superintendent, said. “And then I am just going to go down the list by seniority making phone calls to all of those people and they would get to choose from whatever’s open.”

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