Darien considers splitting from Delavan-Darien School District

Posted at 7:13 PM, May 22, 2018

The Village of Darien is considering a split from the Delavan-Darien School District after fallout from a failed referendum.

Village leaders say this boils down to the sudden closure of Darien Elementary. Voters didn't know that was a consequence of the failed referendum. 

When Darien Elementary's school year ends in just a couple weeks, its doors are closing for good.  It's a disappointment to Jodi Hexel whose kids went there. 

"I was devastated," Hexel said. "All the teachers are going to lose their jobs and all the kids are going to have to relocate." 

But now there's renewed hope for the village's only school. Darien's Board of Trustees is considering detaching from the Delavan-Darien district to create their own. Hexel's first thought wasn't pleasant. 

"Higher taxes," she said.  

This all stems from a failed $3.5 million referendum at the beginning of April. 

The district said a $507,000  bookkeeping error caught after the vote left them at a major deficit. 

"I think mistakes were made, let's put it at that," said School Board President Dr. Jeff Scherer. 

To balance the budget, the district laid off 39 teachers and decided to close Darien Elementary. 

"That means more kids in the classroom and I think this is a nice, small, little school so they get more one-on-one here," Hexel said.  

Darien leaders believe their own district would be a viable option and could make use of Darien Elementary, but the effort would have to be led by its residents. More than 20 percent would have to sign a petition for consideration. 

"If it takes to keep the school in the town then I'm all for it," Hexel said.  

This isn't the only issue the Delavan-Darien School district is dealing with. More than 150 students may be leaving to open enroll elsewhere. That would leave the district with another million dollar shortfall for next school year.