Morrisonville Elementary School is closing early.
Changing course, the DeForest Area School District’s Board of Education voted to shut down the school now, rather than go through with a proposed two-year transition plan it approved in May.
“If you look at it objectively, it just doesn’t make sense to keep operating it,” said Superintendent Eric Runez.
The vote was unanimous, although Gail Lovick abstained and Jeff Miller was absent.
Runez made the recommendation for immediate closure after early registration resulted in less than 30 students being signed up to attend the school next school year. He said he was surprised by the low numbers. Initially, there were 24 signed up. That number rose to 26.
“That was still below realistically what it should be,” said Runez.
Runez also said that he met with Morrisonville staff to get their thoughts.
“To their credit, they felt the same,” said Runez.
All staff at Morrisonville will continue to be employed by the district, according to Runez.
Morrisonville students are expected to attend Yahara Elementary next school year. The existing attendance boundary area of Morrisonville will become part of Yahara’s.
The closing of Morrisonville Elementary was part of the recent $125 million referendum of renovations and new school construction.
Back in May, the school board approved a recommendation from Runez to go with a two-year transition plan. The thought at the time was that construction on the new intermediate school for grades 4-6 would be finished by then, when Morrisonville fourth graders would be transitioning to the school anyway and the renovations at Yahara Elementary School would also be finished.
Part of that plan was to send Morrisonville kindergartners to Yahara next year. At the time, Board Member Spencer Statz wondered if, because of that, Morrisonville would close a year early. Runez said it was a possibility.
That transition plan has now been scuttled. Morrisonville will now close.
Retired Morrisonville Teacher Colleen Fogo attended Monday’s meeting. Even though it’s hard for staff there to accept the school’s fate, Fogo said, “They realize the band aid had to come off.”
Fogo understands the financial reality of the situation.
“As hard as this is, I think everyone is at peace with the decision,” said Fogo.
Lovick said the decision to close the school came quick and thought the timing was weird. Fellow School Board Member Linda Leonhart added that it did feel “anticlimactic.”
School Board President Jan Berg said, “It’s really sad. The school has been around as long as I’ve been here.”
School Board Vice President Steve Tenpas hoped that in some way the district might keep the culture of the Morrisonville school alive.
As far as other matters related to the referendum, Runez said schematic designs for the new intermediate school are being worked on and will be shown later this month. Officials have been reaching out to other intermediate schools for ideas on scheduling and programming.
Visits have also been made to other area school districts, such as McFarland and Stoughton, to see their pools.
Runez also said a big piece that needs to be addressed is traffic.
With regard to the operational part of the referendum, Runez said all positions targeted are filled.