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Posted on Mon, Feb 1, 2010 : 10:55 p.m.

Lincoln Consolidated Schools to empty Bessie Hoffman, move multiage program to main campus

By Tom Perkins

Lincoln Consolidated School’s multiage program will move to Brick Elementary School on the district’s main campus next school year.

The proposal, approved by the school board in a 5-1 vote tonight, means Bessie Hoffman will be emptied of students, but its future use has not yet been determined. The move is expected to save $250,000.


The Lincoln school board voted tonight to cease using Bessie Hoffman as an elementary school, moving those students to Brick next year.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Consolidated Schools

The plan to shutter Bessie Hoffman as an elementary school is among several proposals the district has been considering to address its budget problems.

Under the new arrangement, the district will distribute the six sections of incoming first-graders at Brick to its other elementary schools to make room for the the roughly 300 multiage program students.

Brick will see grades 1-5 again the following school year,

Board President Kim Samuelson said.

If voters agree to pass a proposed bond for facility improvements in May, a separate entrance and an office for the multiage program will be added, Samuelson said.

“It’s fair to say it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best solution in term of expansion, keeping the program intact and honoring the integrity and philosophy of the program,” she said.

The students in the program receive a unique education and are taught according to their “developmental age” instead of their actual age.

The plan was met with unease by parents of students in the program after the last board meeting. District officials held a small meeting earlier in the day with a group of two Bessie Hoffman parents, two Bessie Hoffman teachers and administrators to answer questions.

Samuelson said the main concern was changes would be made to the program to force it to fit into the new building.

“I think we were able to communicate some answers to their concerns,” she said. “We tried to tell them that it’s a constantly evolving situation, especially in the first year, so we’re going to be constantly assessing it.”

Around 60 Bessie Hoffman parents showed up at tonight's meeting, but only one representative spoke during public comments to read a letter on behalf of all the parents.

Jeff Kaiser told the board some parents felt all the options hadn't been considered, and there was a breakdown in communication between parents and board members during the decision-making process.

He went on to recap the promises board members and district officials made at the meeting earlier in the day, and insisted the board “do everything in your power to maintain the integrity and spirit of our beloved school.”

Samuelson said Brick will not see any physical alterations, and the most significant change will be using two floors instead of one in the building.

The board expects a significant savings from not busing kids across the 75-square mile district to the building, which lies seven miles southeast of the main campus in Wayne County.

The future use of the Bessie Hoffman building hasn't been determined.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

I think that Lynn Cleary knew what direction she was taking this program long before she clued any of us in on it. I feel as a parent I was mislead at the information forum 6 weeks ago when we were told her plans were to move us to Redner and then build a new addition on the middle school for us to occupy the following year. Then durning the board meeting on Jan 25th it was stated that they will be voting on moving us to Brick the following week, leaving very little time for anyone to do anything about it. As a proud parent of past, present, and future children that have attended or will be attending the multi-age program I know we will be able to come out on top. Moving to main campus to save money was never the issue for me. Finding us a space where we can still keep our classroom close together and keeping the program as similar to the way it is currently running was. I know the program is still going to continue being great. However, the way things happened in the past couple months, I sure have been left feeling like I have been taken advantage of.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 8:24 p.m.

They should have closed that rat-trap piece of crap years and years ago. Look at all the gas and bus time the spent on sending the students down there, only to return some strangers that used to be our children.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

I trust that Lynn and the board are going to make the best decision on this issue. Obviously closing the BH building is a no-brainer. Moving it to Brick makes common sense because Brick is by far the largest building. I predict that the transition will have a few issues but in the end it'll all work out and most everyone will be happy to have all of the LCS kids and staff members on the main campus.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

My guess is that the spin being referred to is the fact that the Superintendent/Board did not provide any details proving why moving to Brick was the best option (until the two parent representatives met with district officials the Monday of the board meeting). At the board meeting, one of the trustees told the public that nine proposals had been considered. These proposals were not presented at any public meeting. The "proposal" that Ms. Cleary presented at the board meeting last week was a building diagram of Brick and the statement that there are twelve classes at Bessie Hoffman, here are twelve classrooms in Brick we can make available, it's a perfect fit. Parents did write emails to the Superintended/Board with their concerns and other ideas, but these were met with form letter responses (at least mine was) and not taken seriously as the decision had been made long before the official board proposal. I second what Scout624 said. I am a Bessie parent, proud to be one, and will support the continued success of our beloved school.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

I'm just saying it's a tough time to get money from anyone - period. I thought this was exactly what those involved with BH wanted. The meeting I was at they were very vocal about the program and keeping the students together. Isn't that what this article is saying? Or does this group have something against the Brick facility itself? What am I missing?


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Glimmertwin: I hope that by saying 'good luck with the bond' you are expressing goodwill in that you plan to encourage everyone you know to vote for it. As one of the two parents who attended the meeting with district officials yesterday morning, from my point of view, the article is pretty dead-on. As a Bessie parent, I am sad that this has happened, but in the spirit of our beloved school, am going to press on and do all that I can to turn this into a positive experience for our children.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

So what did really happen? What spin? If they would have done this 2 years ago when they should have they could have recognized the dollars earlier. Good luck with that bond. I'm not so sure you can sell it as "it won't increase your taxes". It won't reduce them either at expiration.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Lived there, kid went there. It's a solid program with dedicated people (both staff and parents). Economically, keeping this building in the middle of nowhere (7 miles from the other schools and more like 10 from the bulk of the student population) open just won't work. Keeping the concept and the program alive is very important. Big picture - the setting and location shouldn't matter. Saving critical $'s does.

Sue Nellen

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

Did the Superintendent and Board write this article together? The spin definately does not reflect what really happened during this entire process. On a more positive note, they have my vote for most creative story telling!