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Published December 13, 2011, 10:31 PM

Grand Forks Parents Hope to Save Schools From Closure

Wilder or West Elementary could be closed
GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Although nothing is set in stone, district officials are taking a look at several options. Enrollment continues to decline and something needs to change.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks School District might close one of its elementary schools. A task force needs to respond to declining enrollment.

It might have to close Wilder or West elementary.

Although nothing is set in stone, district officials are taking a look at several options. Enrollment continues to decline and something needs to change.

One local elementary has been the hot topic at school board meetings over the past couple months. Many passionate parents hope the school stays open.

"The idea of closing Wilder Elementary has been brought up several times and often presented as the first of a series of options," Whitney Berry, a mother of three, said.

A 30-member task force is looking at six plans to deal with declining enrollment.

"Is class size an issue, does that put a certain school over capacity if we redraw boundary lines or close or re-purpose a building?" assistant superintendent Jody Thompson said.

The district could close Wilder or West elementaries and send students to a different school like Winship. Or it could close Wilder and send kids to a renovated Community High School or even build a new school.

"What are the potential cost savings for each of these scenarios and then of course fall enrollment projections. Where is school A going to be one year, three year, five years from now," Thompson said.

Parents who live near Wilder Elementary worry about losing the school, which is the smallest in the district with an enrollment of 75 students.

"Wilder may be the school that doesn't belong in the numbers, but it clearly does belong in our neighborhood and community," Berry said.

The task force hasn't made any decisions yet. Many people in the community hope it considers the neighborhood.

"Closing a school will be a downward spiral of families and homeowners moving elsewhere. It would be wonderful if the school district could see itself as part of Grand Forks' effort to stabilize the older portions of the city while supporting further growth in the south," city council member Eliot Glassheim said.

Both parents and some Grand Forks city council members say closing Wilder could have a negative effect on efforts to revitalize the neighborhood.

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