UPDATE: Merrill will close one of two rural schools - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Merrill will close one of two rural schools

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MERRILL (WAOW) -- On Thursday night Merrill school board members voted to close Pine River Elementary.

Pine River will close next year and the district's 4K program will move into that building. Maple Grove will stay open and school leaders will continue efforts to create a charter school there.

District officials said these moves will help balance the budget for next year. But many parents said they like the rural schools. On Wednesday, interim superintendent Bruce Anderson said he's trying to do what is best for everyone. 

"I have to put all of my recommendations based on what's right for the whole district as compared to a small part or even a large part," said Anderson.

"Rural schools have taken a hard hit the last few years," said David Warren, who has two children at Maple Grove. "But I think the statistics show that those students perform better. They need those skills when they're in the beginning before they get into the later grades."

Under the proposed budget, the board will save $364,000 by not budgeting any money for salary increases. The boys hockey program, which was also on the chopping block, is safe as well.

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