Portage board votes to close schools

2 rural schools to be closed
Portage board votes to close schools

Parents said the Portage School Board voted late Tuesday night to close two rural schools.

The parents said their frustration started at listening sessions weeks ago. They didn’t agree with the Portage Community School District’s stance that there wasn’t any other choice to deal with a budget shortfall.

The board called it a compromise because closing the district’s third rural school, Lewiston Elementary, was also under consideration. Instead, the board told parents who live near the two closing rural elementary schools — Fort Winnebago and Caledonia — that they could send their children to Lewiston.

The closings are part of a cost-cutting plan that would slash more than $1 million a year from the budget and centralize operations in the city of Portage.

Parents who attended the meeting said they felt left out of the process.

“Well, I think as parents we have to seriously consider if we want to ultimately have our child attend the school district,” said Chad Hayes, a Portage parent. “Because, again, it doesn’t give us the impression that they’re considering everyone’s opinion in this matter.”

About 170 students attend the three rural schools.

Parents said the rural schools gave students more of a community and a smaller environment to learn in.

The school board said it will close Lewiston if the attendance numbers drop in coming years.