Neighborhood group opposes school closings, organizes walk

May  16, 2014

      The closing of two neighborhood schools in Moline is a bad decision for the community. That's what members of Friends of Small Neighborhood Schools plan to address during a walk tomorrow. The group says closing both Ericsson and Garfield Elementary Schools will put students in danger by making them walk a longer distance to their new school, Hamilton Elementary. 

      Phebe Lees, a member of the group, says children who don't have access to transportation will have to walk through dark, hilly areas. 

      "When you think about your neighbors and you think about your kids, you only ever want what is best for them, and you always hope that whoever is in office, that they're acting and they're taking input from their constituents, and they're asking for it openly because they work for us. And the school board works for our kids."

      Lees, who's a member of her Neighborhood Watch Group, says closing the two schools will affect more than just the children. It'll also affect property owners.

      "There's not a lot of investment and turnover that they can turn those schools into, so they'll sit empty and we'll pay to continue to maintain them. "

      Friends of Small Neighborhood Schools believes taxpayers should have a say in the school board's decision to spend over $17 million to expand Hamilton, while closing Ericsson and Garfield schools.  The walk begins at 10 am tomorrow at Browning Park in Moline. The group will walk to Garfield School and back.  

(Photo: Garfield Elementary School. Courtesy of Moline School District).