Parents in Sorento, Illinois try to keep school from closing

In January, the Bond County School Board decided to close the school and spread pupils across the district.

SORENTO, Illinois – School is closed for the summer, but for students in Sorento, Illinois, the last day has been full of sadness.

“It was unbelievably tough,” Melissa Goymerac said. “There wasn’t a dry eye on that sidewalk. Everyone was crying.

In January, the Bond County School Board decided to close the elementary school and spread the children across the district.

“They were determined to close the school,” Don Wall said.

“Half of my daughter’s class will be at Pocahontas, and half of her class will be at Greenville, so next year they won’t even be together,” Goymerac said.

“It really rallied the townspeople to come together and do something about this problem,” Wall said.

Parents like Don Wall and Melissa Goymerac went to work collecting more than 900 signatures in an effort to separate Sorento Elementary School from the district.

“There are provisions in Illinois law that allow detachment and annexation,” Goymerac said.

A petition filed with the Regional Education Office in Vandalia, Illinois details an attempted split with Bond County in favor of annexation to the Mount Olive School District.

“We’re a better cultural match with Mt. Olive,” Goymerac said. “They want to keep our school open.”

Bond County Superintendent Wes Olson declined to comment for this story, but told 5 On Your Side he was preparing to respond to the petition if a public hearing was scheduled.

“I think from a financial standpoint they will object because they would lose almost 10% of the tax value of the community,” Wall said.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Regional Board of Education to decide if there are educational benefits behind the move.

“All the kids in this town can walk home from school right now,” Goymerac said. “That won’t be the case if they have to go to Greenville or Pocahontas.”

Pocahontas and Greenville are 13 and 14 miles from Sorento.

“The attention and care they received from teachers and staff here was truly above and beyond,” Wall said. “The individual class size and small environment is really what we strive to maintain.”

“Please let us do what is in the best interests of our children,” Goymerac said. “Please let us go!”

Regional Superintendent Julie Wollerman told 5 On Your Side that she is currently reviewing the petition to see if it meets the requirements for a hearing, which should take place before July 1 in order for Sorento to remain open for the next school year.

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