Merrill School Board decides Pine River Elem. will still close - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill School Board decides Pine River Elem. will still close


A rural elementary school in the Merrill School District will close next month as originally planned.

Board members voted Wednesday to continue with the plan that will turn Pine River Elementary School into a head start program.

Before the vote, parents and Pine River students packed the school board meeting to try and save their school. Some even took the microphone, pleading for the board to reverse the decision to close Pine River.

"When you shut Pine River down, it puts a crack in everyone's heart. So please, please don't shut Pine River down," one student said.

But their pleas weren't enough to sway the board.

"It is in our student's best interest and our fiscal best interests to consolidate our grade schools," member Brad Kanitz said.

District officials said closing Pine River will benefit the entire district.

"We are going to save some dollars, about $147,000 with the staff that are going to be reduced," Interim Superintendent Bruce Anderson said.

Some community members argued the school is too valuable to shut down.

"Good students have come out of that school. It's a real good school," Larry Langbecker told Newsline 9. He was a member of the first class at Pine Grove and said he hates to see it close.

Board member Kelly Collins agreed and told the board closing the rural school won't save the district that much. "I don't care if we have to put a new roof on a building. I'd rather put a roof on a building than drive kids across town for an entire school year, or three years, or five years."

But in the end, seven board members voted to stick with the current plan to close the school next month.

it's a matter of repurposing and moving ahead to do what's right for the entire district," Anderson said.

It's a decision some parents said will change their childrens' lives.

"It's just not something I wanted to do for my child. I was happy where he was," Lisa Schultz of Merrill said.

The last day of school will be June 7. Some Pine River parents said they plan on moving their children to another school district.


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