What Crystal Lake Grade School to Close

The Northwest Herald’s Brett Rowland wrote a thought-provoking article published Sunday about how Crystal Lake Grade School District 47 has had fewer and fewer students after 2007.

Down from 9,124 to 8,359. Down 765 students.

So, there seems to be excess capacity. Looks like at least one school too much from the grade school sizes listed below this article. They run from 438 students at South to 714 at Glacier Ridge.

Cary faced a similar situation and has closed one school already. District 26 is also considering closing a second.

Let’s think about what school might be closed in Crystal Lake.

We’re talking elementary schools here.

Without comparing capacity with enrollment, I’ve been thinking about what school might be the most advantageous to be closed.

Age has to be one factor considered.

Husmann Elementary School from McHenry Avenue

The oldest is Husmann Elementary School.

Husmann Grade School and the Crystal Lake Library from Paddock Street.

That’s the school across from the library.

South Elementary School

The second oldest is South Elementary School. It was built it the 1950’s.

As I thought about how the schools could be re-used, the best senior citizen project I have ever seen came to mind.

Parkside Manor in Belvidere

It’s Parkside Manor in Belvidere. I found it in 1972 when I was going door-to-door for state representative. The units were efficiencies and each one faced on green space.

South School wouldn’t match the bucolic setting, but Cress Creek, which goes through pipes under the playgrounds of South Grade and Lundahl Middle School could be uncovered and naturalized, as was a stream flowing through the farm where Sun City was constructed.

Cress Creek as it leaves Crystal Lake has quite a flow in this picture.

Taking it out of the pipe might help the periodic flooding problem, too.

And, part of the school overlooks the Dole Mansion grounds.

As an added bonus, the Crystal Lake Park District’s Main Beach is within easy walking distance.

In short, the building could be renovated for efficiency apartments. A number of the rooms already have running water.

After parents' cars have filled the parking places at South, the only place to wait is on Nash Road. District 47 has spent no money to improve the problem, unlike improvements made to Husmann and West Grade Schools.

South also is the least parent pick-up friendly. It is the only grade school were parents picking up or dropping off kids must do so on the street. Undoubtedly, a apartment developer would figure out a way to put a circular driveway, complete with parking, in front of the school similar to West School’s.

Husmann as seen from the entrance to the Crystal Lake Library.

Historic Husmann, the original high school which is named after grade school principal John Husmann who refused promotion to superintendent because he wanted to stay with the children, should be saved for historic reasons.

Besides possibilities for parking spaces on lots of the asphalt playground area, there is a lot and drive -through to the east and a separate lot across Franklin Street.

It has had major additions constructed, has adequate parking possibilities (including the lot across the street where the old, architecturally unique pump house was leveled to provide more spaces).

The front entrance also has a sloping sidewalk, where it was accessible only up steps before.

Because there are numerous people my age in town who grew up here, this location’s walking distance proximity to Downtown Crystal Lake might prove appealing.

The Bluesniks played at Duke O'Brien's one recent April Saturday night. The band consists of Tony Biell, Piano & Hammond organ; Mike Bakalar, vocals and harp; Joe Kay, guitar; Jim Cheatle, drums; Mitch Goldman, tumptet; Robb Calabro, saxophone. They are worth hearing. The next public venue is June 19th at Kiefs Reef in McHenry.

It might even prove appealing to younger folks, given the entertainment district that has taken root downtown.

There is another possibility for part or all of the building.

Its basement was the first Crystal Lake Library.

The north side of Crystal Lake's Public Library with newest addition on right.

Could some or all of the other floors be strong enough to hold books?

Could parts of the library occupy Husmann?

The other grade schools are not located where immediate adaptive re-use comes to mind.

Maybe readers will have some thoughts.
= = = = =
The population of each of District 47’s schools follow:

  • Canterberry – 500
  • Coventry- 519
  • Glacier Ridge – 714
  • Husmann- 641
  • Indian Prairie – 606
  • North – 679
  • South – 438
  • West – 697
  • Woods Creek – 634
  • Hannah Beardsley Middle School – 980
  • Lundahl Middle School – 1001
  • Richard Bernotas Middle School – 1012

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