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Helen Baker School options are ongoing

Today, Wednesday, is the start of the new school year for Glencoe-Silver Lake Public Schools, and there is a lot of excitement and anticipation as Lincoln Campus students and staff are finally (more or less) in place in their new classrooms, cafeteria and other new spaces.
And that excitement and anticipation are well deserved. The school district is finally seeing the fruition of years of facility planning, and the result of a voter-approved building bond after two prior votes failed.
However, we have to say it feels strange to drive by and feel the emptiness at the former Helen Baker Elementary School. On the first school day of each year, we’d have a photographer on site as school buses and parents dropped off their kids. Some rushed in with enthusiasm, others hung back with trepidation. But there were always teachers, aides, principals and others to joyously greet the students and take the shyer ones under their wings.
And, of course, it is always fun to watch the parents — they take a picture of their children boarding their buses at home, follow the bus to the school, and then take another photograph of their children getting off the bus. All in the name of chronicling the first day of each school year.
But to get back to Helen Baker. The building now stands virtually empty, and many are wondering what will become of it.
Fortunately, there has been some interest in purchasing the building. As one may recall, the Glencoe City Council heard of a couple of proposals a few months ago, both with the intention of repurposing the building for housing.
A further update on the building was to be taken up by the council Tuesday night, but that occurred too late for this issue. However, we do hope that progress is being made for plans to repurpose the building. There is no site more discouraging in a town than that of a once-bustling landmark building falling into disrepair. The Glencoe City Center, created out of the old Henry Hill school building, is a prime example of a building that has been repurposed while retaining its original character.
We hope that whatever is done with the building — short of abandoning it or demolishing it — keeps some of the original character of the building. While it is no longer suitable for today’s educational demands, it still served its purpose for many decades and, with some care and planning, it will serve the community for many more years to come.