- After an emotional debate, Pine River Elementary in Merrill is set to close it's doors for good this year. Some say closing the school is the best option for an increasingly tough budget, but not everyone agrees.
"This is disrupting our entire educational system. This is hard on the parents, hard on the students, and hard on the teachers... It's sad, I think it's a mistake and it's one we're going to pay for for many many years," says Kelly Collins, a member of the Merrill School Board, and one of two votes against closing the school.
But Merrill superindentent Bruce Anderson tells another story. He says keeping the school open would come at a cost they couldn't afford.
"If the board would have chosen to do that, we would have had to find $274,000 from some place. Those are dollars we don't have," says Anderson.
According to Anderson, Merrill, like most schools, has had to make tough cuts for years. But Collins says the school's budget of $40 million is "plenty" and closing the school won't save anything.
"We still do not have in our hands, any true financial numbers of savings or expenses. If there's a true cost savings, and it's a benefit to the tax payers, then lets see it. We haven't seen it," says Collins.
Last night the school board voted 7 to 2 to close Pine River, and use the building for their pre-school program instead.
Those changes will become effective next year.
No teachers lost their job in the change, the students and teachers from Pine River will be shifted to other schools in Merrill.
Anderson said the savings come from cutting secretary and cleaning positions, and by removing a computer lab.
Anderson also said the Pine River building will need work done on it's roof, and restroom facilities before it opens as the new pre-school next year. However, he said the 50 year old building would have been needed the remodeling even if they kept it running as an elementary school.