Board votes to close Rich East High School in Park Forest

After years of declining enrollment, south suburban School District 227 has voted to close Rich East High School.

The planned closure of Rich East High School comes after a narrow vote by the board Tuesday night. The main reasons: a reported 30-percent drop in enrollment over the last ten years, and an aging facility.

Built in 1952, Rich East is the oldest of the three high schools in District 227. Officials say it has been prone to flooding and would cost millions to modernize.

In a 4-3 vote, the school board chose to close it and upgrade the district's other two campuses: Rich South and Rich Central.

In a statement, the superintendent said, "A consolidation model would allow District 227 to save considerable costs while expanding the opportunities available to our students. At a time of declining enrollment, we believe that investing now in our children, and our facilities, will encourage more families to choose Rich Township in the future."

Of the remaining two campuses, one will offer science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, while the other will focus on communication, business and the performing arts.

Two big remaining questions:  when will Rich East officially close as a school and what is going to happen to its faculty?

The school board says it is exploring the possibility of re-purposing the building as a regional vocational center.