IRONWOOD - The Ironwood Area Schools Board of Education voted to move students from Sleight Elementary into Luther L. Wright School during a meeting Monday evening.
The move would take place over the summer in time for the start of the 2014-2015 school year. Kindergarten through second grade students will be moved from Sleight to the first floor of LLW. Third through sixth grade students will move from the first floor to the second floor, and seventh through 12th grade students will occupy the third floor, with a few classrooms on the second floor.
According to superintendent Tim Kolesar, the move is prompted by financial reasons, mainly loss of funding from the state with declining enrollment.
Sleight will still be operated under the district, with the 4-year-old Great Start Readiness program, the Gogebic Ontonagon Intermediate School District offices and the alternative school all being housed there. The alternative school will be on the second floor, and there will also be space on the first floor to rent to other age-similar programs, such as head start.
Currently, the district pays $32,000 a year to rent St. Sebastian School in Bessemer for the alternative school. Kolesar said the $32,000 savings each year will be used to keep Sleight up and running.
Board members had some concerns with the move, including class sizes, activity in the hallways and playground equipment for younger students.
One concern was the movement of students at the end of the day. Kolesar presented a possible staggered bell schedule to avoid conflicts. Kindergarten through second grade would be from 7:55 a.m. to 3:05 p.m ., third through sixth would be 8 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. and seventh through 12th would be 8:05 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Board member Brenda Agee asked why things needed to be done so soon, regarding the move.
For board president Steve Thomas, the answer was finances.
"Each year, we spend more than we take in," Thomas said. "Between the loses in state funding and funding from the GOISD, we're going to lose approximately $283,000 next year. We don't have a lot of dollars to play with. My thinking is, if we wait a year on this, things really aren't going to change much. Might as well get it done now."
Teachers in attendance also voiced their opinions on the matter. Tom Mott, a third grade teacher, said he feels there is a "disconnect" between the teachers at Sleight and the teachers at Norrie (third through sixth grade housed at LLW).
"I think it will help to have everyone in the same building," Mott said.
Kindergarten teacher Michelle Trier said parents have expressed positive comments about the move, especially those with more than one child in the district.
"Have the siblings all in the same building was a major plus for those parents," Trier said.
Kolesar expressed his feelings on having the students under one roof.
"I feel we can better utilize resources, and this will be perfect for our vertical alignment for our curriculum," Kolesar said.
The motion was approved 6-0, with board member Leroy Johnson absent from the meeting.