The Prairie Hills USD 113 board of education voted to close both the Bern and Summerfield schools at a special meeting on Saturday morning. The board voted 6-1 to close the Summerfield Elementary School by June 30th, 2013 and voted 6-1 to close the Bern Attendance Center at the end of the current school year.
Board member Brent Lortscher cast the lone no vote to close the Bern school and board member Julia Alfers cast the lone no vote to close the Summerfield School. A motion by Lortscher to allow Bern two more years to meet certain enrollment benchmarks died due to the lack of a second.
Board member Tim Aberle stated the board has an obligation to start making those changes necessary now so the district is financially solid when the budget plan ends in June 2015. Board member Ed Reznicek said the main problem he sees is how they can sustain all seven buildings and still provide the best education for students without making a decision now to plan for the future. Reznicek stated the board, administration, teachers and staff, and many parents in the district in kind of a planning limbo if the decision were delayed.
Superintendent Dennis Stones said more room will be needed at Axtell school to accommodate the Summerfield students. Stone said they have investigated the addition of outside modular units but they would not be in place by next school year.
The board held public hearings last month on the proposal to close the schools.
The board said the closings were being considered due to increased costs, reduced budgets and changing demographics as well as to preserve a strong curriculum for all students of the district.