Marengo Academy refutes rumors of school’s closure

Published 11:02 pm Friday, December 3, 2010

LINDEN – Rumors of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. Chairman of the Marengo Academy Board Kevin Dixon laid to rest Thursday any notion that the Linden-based institution would cease to exist in the near future.

“The school is not closing down and we’re not anticipating having to cut any jobs,” Dixon said.

Rumors began circulating earlier in the week that the school could no longer pay its instructors and that its doors would soon be closing.

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Dixon and the board conducted a meeting with MA membership Tuesday to address the school’s financial state.

“The membership meeting was called as kind of a state of the union,” Dixon said of the meeting, which included faculty, staff and parents.

“We had to let everyone know about the current financial state.”

The impetus of the meeting were budgetary obstacles the MA board found itself attempting to overcome.

“The budget we brought forth at the beginning of the year is not

balancing as we had it laid out for various reasons,” Dixon said.

The school has operated for more than four decades. However, like many public and private school systems, the economic downturn of the last few years has left Marengo Academy facing tough decisions.

“I have tremendous respect for the people who have kept this school going for 41 years,” Dixon said. “How Mr. (John) Holley and everyone kept that school going for so long, I’ll never understand.”

Dixon and much of the current board became involved in guiding the institution two and a half years ago. Since then, the decision-making body of MA has attempted to maintain the organizational and financial structure of the school while also infusing a handful of new ideas and changes.

We took what we thought were great things already going on at Marengo Academy and added some new ideas,” Dixon said. “Bottom line is this thing was propped up for us to be able to come in and continue building on the already positive things at MA.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board presented some potential solutions to the Longhorn faithful.

“We told them some of the options included cutting staff. But they said they did not want their education watered down because of all this,”

Dixon said. From there, Dixon and the board received an outpouring of support they have found both surprising and validating.

Many MA supporters at the meeting made contributions to the board to help the school cover its expenses. Certain teachers and staff members volunteered to give up at least a portion of their paychecks to help cover operational costs.

“We’ve streamlined some areas. We’ve cut down the budget in a lot of areas,” Dixon said. “But we’re not going to dilute our educational system.”

Since Tuesday’s meeting, the board has also received numerous phone calls from parents, grandparents and alumni pledging their emotional and financial support to the school.

“The support confirmed what our hopes were,” Dixon said. “That as long as there is a need for Marengo Academy, there will be a Marengo Academy. All of this has shown us there is a need for Marengo Academy.”