Tough Choices for Stevens Point School District

With declining enrollment and a very tight budget, closing a Stevens Point Elementary School could save the district some much needed money, but that decision will not be up to voters. That ruling comes after a committee says there's not enough interest.

The board's business/service committee met Monday evening with a pretty packed house as people addressed their own concerns with putting this question on a spring referendum.

Two questions are already on the referendum, which could allow the district to exceed revenue caps over the next two school years, but some committee members felt adding the third question could hurt the chances of passing the others.

"That additional third item on the agenda could cause confusion among some people. And in the confusion, could vote 'no' on the two important referenda," says Jim Harmon, a member of the school board and chairman of the Business/Services Committee.

Now the district has to figure out which school to close. A team of administrators has come up with a list of criteria to use in making that decision.

Superintendent David Schuler says it's a tough decision to make under these circumstances.

"We don't want to close an elementary school, but the reality is we're down 950 elementary school students. You have to look at your elementary facilities," says Schuler.

The committee will meet again on Wednesday to discuss the criteria that will be used. Schuler says the district will also bring an outside source in, someone without a personal tie to the school, to help make the recommendation on which elementary school to close.