The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Goodbye Sleight; hello Wright

 


IRONWOOD - Friday marked the end of the school year at Ironwood, and faculty, staff and administration are right in the middle of moving everything into one building.

At the end of April, the Ironwood Area Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to move students from Sleight to LLW School, making it a K-12 facility.

The move has kindergarten through second grade students moving from Sleight to the first floor of Luther L. Wright, third through sixth grade students on the second floor and seventh through 12th grade students on the third floor.

Superintendent Tim Kolesar presented each board member with packet, highlighting the upcoming challenges and benefits of having a K-12 facility.

Many of the current challenges include financial struggles, including a loss of $143,000 from one revenue source for the 2014-'15 school year, as well as uncertatin state aid for next year. There is also a potential drop of about 20 students in the kindergarten program, meaning a loss of nearly $140,000 in state aid.

To help alleviate some of the financial burden, the district will still operate Sleight, using it to house the Great Start Readiness 4-year-old program through the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District, as well as the Gogebic County Community Schools and GOISD offices, which are now being rented at LLW.

The district pays $32,000 a year to house the community school at St. Sebastian School in Bessemer. Once the move is complete, the district will no longer have to pay that rent.

Kolesar said Sleight could be reopened as an elementary school if student population numbers increase.

Since the move has been made official, staff and students have been packing, getting ready to make the leap from one floor to another, or one building to another.

"We've moved almost everything from the second floor to the third floor and are continuing to move everything from the first floor to the second floor," elementary principal Nick Steinmetz said. "Once the first floor rooms are empty, they will be cleaned and ready for the Sleight teachers to move in."

The goal is to have classrooms moved from Sleight to LLW throughout the week of June 16, according to Steinmetz. The community school program will move into Sleight by June 23.

"Everything should be done and in place by June 30," Steinmetz said.

Pam Moderson, first grade teacher at Sleight, said she and her students have talked about the move.

"They are excited," Moderson said, "but they do keep asking if we are going to come back to Sleight next year, so I don't think they fully understand. They have been helping me pack since last week."

Students have cleaned out their desks and have helped clean out classrooms.

"The kids have been fantastic," Ted Sim, middle/high school history teacher, said. "They are more than willing to help if you ask."

Sim is making the move from the second to the third floor, and has made the move before.

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

STUDENTS IN Pam Moderson's first grade class clean out their desks Friday during the last day of school at Sleight Elementary in Ironwood. Next year, all students will attend Luther L. Wright School.

"For me, moving up has been going pretty smooth," Sim said. "For the first 20 years, I was on the third floor, and the last three I have been on the second. Now, I'm going back to the third."

Despite packing, moving boxes and getting things organized, Sim said there are benefits to moving a classroom.

"You clean everything out and get rid of stuff you normally wouldn't have gotten rid of," Sim said. "It's like moving from a house."

Middle/high school principal Michelle Kanipes believes everything will be ready to go by June 30.

"It can be a difficult transition when still holding classes," Kanipes said.

"There is a lot of stuff to move, whether it's from one floor to another, or in the case at Sleight, from one building to another. ... It's hard to judge right now if we'll be ready because of all the stuff everywhere, but I think so. When the students are gone, the teachers will have a chance to work when it's quiet and calm. Then I think you'll see a lot more progress."