Boundary Change Could Close Sorento School

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Around 200 people showed up for an informational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 8, in Sorento, where many feel they are in a fight to save their school.

The meeting was the third in as many days throughout the Bond County Community School District–Monday in Greenville, Tuesday in Pocahontas, and Wednesday in Sorento–for members of the school board to hear public input on a number of potential school boundary changes in the district.

Impetus behind the potential boundary changes, according to Superintendent  Dr. Wes Olsen, is equalizing class sizes among attendance centers due to declining enrollments. The average kindergarten class size in 2017-18 was 27 students at Greenville Elementary School, but only 13 at Pocahontas and 10 at Sorento.

Most of the options take students from the Old Ripley area who currently go to school in Greenville and distribute them between schools in Pocahontas and Sorento.  Those options, of course, are not popular among parents whose children would have to switch schools.

One option, though, would close Sorento School.

Those at the Sorento meeting Wednesday pointed toward the school's 2012 recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School, and pointed toward the work done by the Sorento Community Development Organization to revitalize the village and bring in more families.

Another potential boost in Sorento attendance could come from the Hillsboro School Districts, where Bond County residents in Panama and Donnellson said they have made inquiries into the process of detaching from Hillsboro and joining the Bond County School District.

Superintendent Olson pointed out that although the potential boundary changes are not financially driven, the option to close Sorento School would save the school district an estimated $735,000 a year.

"It was very evident that the people of the Sorento area are very proud of their school, and are willing to work to make it better that it is already," Susan Wall of Sorento said after the meeting.  "Determination for a good cause makes great things happen."

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