DECATUR — Elementary students in the Central A&M School District will move to the district's middle school building starting in 2019 under plans approved by the school board Monday.

The board voted unanimously to close Bond Elementary, citing high maintenance costs and declining enrollment across the district. Officials have estimated the move will save about $300,000.

"The whole key here is sustainability," Superintendent DeAnn Heck said. "We just don't have the enrollment to sustain keeping that whole school open."

Under the proposal, first announced last month by Heck and the school board, students would be moved to Central A&M Middle School, which will undergo renovations. Both buildings are located in Assumption. 

"This (vote) is the first step in this process," Heck said. "This is what we see going forward."

No parents or residents addressed the board before the vote, which was taken without debate among board members. The district hosted meetings on Dec. 3 and 4 to discuss the proposal with interested residents. 

"We answered a lot of questions during those nights," Heck said. 

Officials announced the proposal in a letter posted Nov. 9 on the school district's website. It said the school, built in 1960, needs $1.7 million in asbestos abatement, security, life safety and other state-mandated improvements.

The number of students at the school's two Moweaqua buildings, Gregory Intermediate and Central A&M High School, would not change, and bus routes would remain the same, officials have said. 

Heck has said the number of students in the district has fallen by 40 percent since Assumption and Moweaqua consolidated 25 years ago, with most of the decrease occurring in the 1990s.

"With the loss of certain employers and jobs in the area, it's taken a toll on enrollment in the area," she said.

Looking forward to the changes coming to the district, Heck said she hopes the enrollment numbers will start to rebound as the area's job market begins to stabilize. 

"I hope that we can hold on to that momentum," she said.

Heck said the board will begin looking for contractors for the renovation of Central A&M Middle School next month and choose one in February. The contractor proposals will be made available for district families to view, she said.

jcook@herald-review.com | (217) 421-7980

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