Superior School District Shares Initial Consolidation Plans
Three options. None of them are easy. And each one will determine the path forward for the Superior School District, as they face an impending budget shortfall of $4 million for the 2024-2025 school year.
At a meeting on March 2, school families, taxpayers, and members of the general community at large got their first look at what the future of the Superior School District will look like.
While nothing has been finalized at this point, school officials took the opportunity to not only share what consolidation could look like for the district, but to also gauge opinions. According to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], there are three potential plans being considered as a solution to the $4 million budget shortfall problem:
- Close Four Corners Elementary School
- Close Lake Superior Elementary School
- Keep all six elementary schools open
Each of the potential plans have their own set of benefits and problems. And ideally, the general concern for both school officials and the general public is to make sure that students are impacted as little as possible.
General public opinion from the meeting was that the community wanted all six of the elementary schools to remain open. That plan would - obviously - have the least impact on students. Many parents were concerned that consolidations and closures would create longer bus rides and enlarged class sizes.
But, leaving all six of the schools open has it's drawbacks, too. Especially since the goal of the Superior School District's School Consolidation Advisory Committee is to find a solution to the upcoming $4 million budget shortfall. It goes without saying that leaving the schools open - as they are - doesn't immediately fix the problem.
If all of the schools are left open, the district would be forced to face the challenges the budget would create. Superior School District Administrator Amy Starzecki offered that that plan would need "significant staffing and program reductions".
Starzecki explained the dilemma faced by the district and the impacts it will have no matter what decisions are made:
"This is the situation, really, our state has put us in, and if we're not getting additional revenue to fund these programs and these staffing allocations then we have to make these reductions. Yes, it will impact morale, and yes, there will be staffing reductions. I will say that if we don't close a school, there'll be twice as many staffing reductions, so that's why we want to come and see if this is a possible solution to our budget situation."
As far as which building would be closed (and consolidated), the district faces some big decisions. And, some big questions - similar to ones other districts in the area are also facing.
Both of the elementary schools being target for closure are the oldest that the district operates. And, [t]hey also have the smallest student populations" with Lake Superior Elementary at 148 and Four Corners Elementary at 198.
Starzecki explained the issues that the committee is forced to weigh in on:
"Do we have an obligation as a school district to run our schools as efficiently as possible? Do we have an obligation to our taxpayers to run our schools efficiently? If we can see savings, do we have that obligation?"
Leaving those two elementary schools open would mean that significant upgrades would need to be made on them - from roofing to "structural repairs and a wastewater system upgrade".
While much was talked about at the March 2 meeting, this is only the beginning of the long process that awaits both the committee, the school board, and the community in general.
Ultimately, the Superior School District will have the final say in what decisions get made. However, they will consider the recommendations that come from the Consolidation Committee.
The next public meeting for the Superior School District's School Consolidation Advisory Committee will be March 23, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM at the Board Office Conference Room.