(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam School Board Monday night discussed the possible closure of two elementary schools. The board last month was presented with a five-year maintenance plan totaling over $12-million dollars – at all buildings except the high school – that includes taking on new debt without going to referendum.
The initial plan focused on the closure of South Beaver Dam Elementary and its consolidation with Jefferson Elementary after next school year. An additional two plans were presented Monday night by request of the school board: one involves closing Wilson after next school year instead of South Beaver Dam and consolidating with Washington Elementary. The third involves closing South Beaver Dam after the next school year and closing Wilson after the 2022-2023 school year.
Both Wilson and South Beaver Dam are considered “single section schools,” meaning they have one classroom for each grade. Board President Bev Beal-Loeck says that presents a unique set of challenges for each building, with each needing a unique set of services.
“The more buildings there are,” Beal-Loeck says, “the harder it is to get teachers, support staff and professional staff to all of the buildings.”
A couple dozen parents and community members were in attendance. During public comments, one parent was neutral asking only that the school board has an effective plan in place. Another half-dozen spoke against closing the country school.
Christine Lepple-Lindner spoke of the “close-knit rural community” that has “produced hundreds of doctors, agri-business leaders” and other professionals.
“I am passionate about that school because you don’t see too many of those around anymore,” said Mike Deuth adding, “We bought a house in Leipsig and 40-percent of what influenced us was that K-through-five school that was just like what I went to when I grew up.”
Denise Lepple says her daughters biggest fear is taking her classmates and putting them with people she does not know. Lepple’s daughter, who is in fourth grade, told the board “all of the teachers make me feel safe. I like how our school makes me feel like our family.”
Beal-Loeck says the plan that will be selected is not one that will be taken lightly by the board.
“We have a difficult decision to be making and we will look at everything and talk about it before we come to that decision,” she says.
The administration is formulating a recommendation based on school board input and community feedback; a decision could come as early as next month’s meeting.
You can find full details on each of the three school closing possibilities, along with the proposed maintenance plan, here: