MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Parents in the Stillwater School District made it clear Thursday that they are against the district closing three elementary schools.

The district wants to close Withrow, Marine and Oak Park schools in what is being called a bold proposal.

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But at a public hearing Thursday evening, parents and teachers asked the school board to keep those schools open.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“It’s very emotional for a lot of people,” parent Meghann Greeder said.

Her three kids attend Withrow Elementary. She said parents were led to believe that a $97-million bond that taxpayers voted on and approved would help keep the schools open.

“We worked really hard to pass that bond and promote it,” Greeder said. “We knew there would be cuts but they never suggested closing the three schools.”

But the school district said the BOLD proposal would help students in the long term. They say they have spent months studying what would be best for the entire district.

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Superintendent Denise Pontrelli said enrollment at the schools is low, and there’s more growth in the south part of the district.

“It’s never an easy thing to do,” Pontrelli said.

She also said the bond money will help with improvements, and the building of a new elementary school in the south.

“For us it’s about funding and how do we look at our district of 8,300 students and provide for them,” she said.

But at Thursday’s public hearing, parents pointed out high test scores at all three schools. And many said they have chosen to open enroll their students into those schools.

They said closing the schools would be a major change for students, and many would see their bus times double.

“It’s not just a building. It’s not just bricks and mortar,” parent Chris Hansen said. “It’s home.”

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Parents said they only learned of this proposal last month. They want the school board to delay next month’s vote on closing the schools.

John Lauritsen