Lone Rock school spared from closure for now

Lone Rock school spared from closure for now

Officials in the River Valley School District chose to postpone discussions on closing its elementary school in the small Richland County village of Lone Rock Thursday night.

The district’s school board opted to table a scheduled vote on whether to accept district officials’ recommendation to close the school because of what administrators said is a lack of funding due to enrollment.

News 3 first reported on the proposed closure in January.

District Administrator Tom Wermuth said the district will instead hold a referendum in November to try to raise revenue for the district. Officials plan to revisit the proposed Lone Rock closure after the election.

School board member Deb Nelson said she believes the Lone Rock school will eventually need to be closed regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

“In the best interest of the elementary education, I feel that it’s time,” Nelson said. “It’s something that’s probably going to happen down the road.”

Nelson also said the district is looking into closing elementary schools in Arena and Plain in the coming years. All three schools are the only public schools in their respective villages.

More than 100 residents and parents came to the meeting at River Valley Middle School, which was held in its gymnasium to accommodate the crowd.

Residents and parents who oppose the proposed school closure said it would be detrimental for Lone Rock to lose its only school.

“It would mean the diminishing of our community,” Lone Rock resident Joyce Atkisson said. “The schools used as a food pantry, family night, I believe that would be worse off for the children.”

Lone Rock village board member Tom Whalen attended the school board meeting and said he and other village leaders worry a school closure would have a negative economic impact on an already struggling small town.

River Valley officials plan to discuss the proposed referendum over the coming months.