ERIC Number: ED498122
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May-1
Reference Count: 7
Abandoned School Buildings in Rural Illinois and Their Conversions. Rural Research Report. Volume 18, Issue 4, Spring 2007
Spader, Karin A.
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
In 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included neighborhood schools in its list of America's Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places, noting how many small neighborhood schools were closing. In rural areas, particularly, this may be caused by steadily declining enrollment that has forced districts to consolidate and close one, or more, school buildings still in usable condition. Other reasons for closure may include lack of money for needed repairs and pressures to build new, rather than renovate, old facilities, as well as a lack of public support for preserving existing school buildings. While these issues partly explain school closings, they do not indicate what happens to abandoned buildings, and, because these buildings can be either an asset or an eyesore in small towns, finding suitable and productive uses is an important issue for community leaders. This report reviews recent literature regarding the benefits of revitalizing abandoned school buildings and presents a summary of findings from a survey of administrators involved in building closures. Examples of school buildings successfully converted to a variety of purposes are provided. School buildings have been converted to use as Head Start and after-school programs, community centers, local organizational headquarters, specialty malls (gifts, furniture, antiques), athletic clubs and commercial enterprises such as photography studios, tanning salons, and restaurants. The author hopes to illustrate options that can be explored in communities before a closed school building is abandoned and reaches sufficient deterioration to no longer have a productive use.
Descriptors: School Closing, Rural Areas, Public Support, Preservation, Neighborhood Schools, Historic Sites, Declining Enrollment, Community Involvement, School Buildings, Enrollment Trends, Educational Finance, Building Conversion
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. Western Illinois University, 518 Stipes Hall, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455. Tel: 309-298-2637; Fax: 309-298-2142; Web site: http://www.iira.org
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Western Illinois Univ., Macomb. Illinois Inst. for Rural Affairs.
Identifiers - Location: Illinois