Sometimes public comment and sentiment matters. Reversing an earlier decision, the Maple School District has decided to not move forward with plans that would have consolidated the second grade class at Iron River Elementary to Northwestern Elementary School.

The reversal was made official with a unanimous vote at school board meeting that was held on March 8.

However, because the consolidation decision was part of a larger plan to right-side the budget for the 2023-2024 school year, the reversal did come with consequences for other programs. According to details shared in the article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the Iron River fourth and fifth grade students will attend combined, single-teacher classes in the afternoon for non-core classes like art, music, science, and social studies.

School District officials cited the role that public sentiment played in the decision.  District Administrator Sara Croney explains:

"The motion made and seconded was because of hearing Iron River, including the Town Board, clearly, that it's more important to keep the Iron River children at Iron River."

The school board meeting was heavily attended by the community - with most expecting that they would be speaking out against the second grade consolidation plan; the vote and the reversal caught many off-guard but in a good way.

However, there was still mixed emotion about the impacts that combing the fourth and fifth grade for afternoon classes would have. The board members recognized the concern that parents and community members had about it. That prompted Maple School Board member Gail Saari to offer "[l]et [state legislators know how you feel.  Not only let us know, let representatives know".

The Maple School District faces an "anticipated $575,000 shortfall" for the 2023-2024 school year. That's what has originated the consolidation plans.

During the meeting - and to that end - the board "approved a list of preliminary layoff notices" for staffers. That "list included a high school math and a high school science teacher, a social studies teacher who covers both the high school and middle school, and a middle school health teacher".

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