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Davenport Community School District asks for feedback on downsizing plan

The district is considering downsizing, grade restructuring and other improvements in a survey mailed out to residents.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Davenport Community School District is looking at some major changes and wants the community's opinion.

A survey on plans to downsize school buildings was mailed out to district residents, which is due on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

District leaders said the reason for the proposals is a continuing trend of declining enrollment numbers.

"I feel like with the open enrollment, we're losing a lot of kids to other school districts which is a downfall too because you want to see Davenport continue to grow," parent Melanee Lee said.

District officials added that several schools were considerably below full capacity.

For example in 2020-2021, enrollment at the Pre-K through 6th grades was at 6,881. The buildings have a capacity of approximately 8,752 to 9,881.

Additionally, in middle schools, enrollment was 1,850 compared to a capacity of 3,000 to 3,456.

They added that downsizing will save money on annual operating costs, allow for investment in aging schools and make room for the construction of a new middle school.

"You hate to see schools close but you hope overall, the greater good will come of it," Lee said.

RELATED: 'You are going to rip the heart out of our community' | Walcott Elementary parents voice opposition to potential closure

Leaders said there is good funding available for a 'phase one' of future plans, but, in the survey, they also asked for support on a possible $85 million bond. That would lead to property tax increases for all Davenport School District residents.

Another proposed change is adding 5th graders to middle schools, which the district said would let it operate fewer elementary schools and closer to their capacity.

The change worries parent Stephanie Witherow.

"8th graders are going through a lot more different things developmentally and socially than what a 5th grader is," Witherow said. "I just don't want my kids to grow up any faster than they have to or be exposed to more."

However, for this setup, the district said they would design middle schools to separate 5th and 6th graders from 7th and 8th graders.

"I really hope that whatever conclusion they come to - and the votes that come in or the parents' opinions coming in - that they take that into consideration," Lee added.

The school board will review the results at the Board of Education meeting on Nov. 7.

The survey can also be completed online, but only through a link on the mailed survey.

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