- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BERNARD, Iowa (AP) - Residents of the tiny eastern Iowa city of Bernard are imploring officials to keep the community’s elementary school open despite declining enrollment and higher per-student costs.

About 50 people attended the Western Dubuque Community School Board’s meeting on Monday, according to the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2gVB0Yc ).

“We know how important it is for families to be able to raise their kids in a town that has a hometown school,” attendee Maggie Gravel said. “Closing the school could drive some families away from moving up here.”

Many residents who once attended the elementary school also noted the positive impact it had on them.

The district said it costs about $14,000 per student to keep Bernard Elementary in operation, while it costs about $7,000 per student at the district’s other elementary schools.

The school currently has 31 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten, first grade and third grade. Several residents said the school’s enrollment would be higher if the district hadn’t moved the kindergarten and second grade students to Cascade Elementary School.

“It’s easy to say we have low enrollment when you’re taking kids out of this school and taking them to Cascade,” Bernard Mayor Rick McDonnell said. “Our enrollment numbers would be good, then.”

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the students were moved because their class sizes would’ve been too small at Bernard.

“This is the hard facts, folks,” Colpitts said. “There’s the emotional element to the school, but there are also other things that we need to consider.”

No decision was made at Monday’s meeting. The school board’s president, Mark Knuth, said a decision would be made on the school’s future in the “next few months.”


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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