Parents say they won't give up fight to save Pine River Elementary
PINE RIVER (WAOW) -
Some parents who have students at a rural elementary set to close say they're not giving up. They're pushing to save Pine River Elementary in the Merrill school district.
School officials told Newsline 9 the district needs to cut 1.5 million dollars, and that has created some tough decisions. But Pine River parents have a glimmer of hope because two new members were recently elected to the school board, and those parents want members to take up the issue again.
"It's like a family. We would love to see this school stay open," Pine River parent Jan Rydeski said. She has three kids at the school.
"They're jumping in so fast and they're making these hasty decisions and we just can't afford it," she said of the board's decision earlier this year to close the rural school. But that's what district officials said as well. They just can't afford it.
"The reality is it's the funding issue," Merrill Interim Superintendent Bruce Anderson told Newsline 9.
He said the best way to keep students in the building is to turn it into a pre-kindergarten program for children ages three to five. The district has grant money set aside for that kind of project, but Rydeski said a pre-K program will still cost taxpayers because the grant won't cover everything.
"We love this school we don't want to see it closed," she said.
Anderson said it's possible the board could change its mind and vote to keep the school open. We tried to find out if a re-vote would be possible, but board members declined to comment until a school board president is chosen.
Meantime, Anderson said he understands parents' frustration, but the district needs to look at the big picture.
"That what we're trying to do is provide quality service to all of our children not simply just a few students," he said.
As the plan sits now, students at Pine River will have to attend school somewhere else next year.
Pine River supporters said they plan to gather at next Monday's regularly scheduled board meeting to try and advocate for keeping the school open. They hope a re-vote will eventually take place.