329 Board takes next step to close MHES

AJ Grutsch | editor in chief

The USD 329 school board voted 5-1 in a special meeting last week to hold a public hearing over closing Maple Hill Elementary. It’s the next step in a plan to close the Maple Hill building for the next school year.

The board also voted to move students from Maple Hill Elementary to Alma. The consolidation would take place at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. 

The board cited a need to consolidate to address issues with the operating budget in the future, although members did express concern that a potential loss of students from some towns could affect finances negatively in the long run.

The board looked at several options for configuration next year, including moving 6-8 to Alma and putting some elementary students in Paxico.

Board member Don Frank also proposed an amendment to close Paxico junior high after next year, moving the junior high to Alma for the 2024-2025 school year and creating a K-12 campus. “I’d like to finally get this done and move down the road,” Frank said. Frank also cited that potential savings from closing buildings shouldn’t be unnecessarily delayed.

Although the board discussed that a K-12 campus is the likely next step, they were not prepared to take that action during the meeting. “I do believe a K-12 here is what’s best for our district. I don’t favor any of our towns over students in our district,” board member Justin Frank said.

Board member Tony Conrad did express some concern over a K-12 campus as an ultimate goal. “We’re turning down growth of any kind in our district and that’s just unacceptable.”

Closing Maple Hill would save an estimated $250,000 for the district, which could be used to maintain current facilities. Closing Paxico could also save more than $200,000.  

Maple Hill Elementary teacher Jennifer Mumpower expressed a mix of emotions about the decision. “I am definitely feeling sad because I have loved teaching in this community and being a part of the outstanding family, but I also understand the financial reasons behind the decision,” Mumpower said. “I have loved the atmosphere and the culture that has been built here. It is unlike any other setting I have worked in. It has also been an absolute blessing for me to be able to live in this community and work so close to home for all these years. I will for sure miss my short commute.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: