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Community Speaks Out as North Cedar School Board Considers Closing High School

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STANWOOD, Iowa - Hundreds of people are trying to save the North Cedar High School. The superintendent is recommending the school board consider closing it as an attendance center by 2016. Board members said declining enrollment in the rural district is persuading them to downsize from four school buildings to three. Nothing is set in stone, but the initial plan includes moving the high school students to the middle school and moving grades five and six to the two elementary buildings. The superintendent also the district would have to build six new classrooms onto current schools using sales tax revenue to account for the changes. More people living in the community are learning about the proposed changes and are sounding off about it. "It's kind of home to all of us," said Senior Cali Cinkovich. Cinkovich likes her high school the way it is. She isn't happy about the potential consolidation. "Everyone is banding together and we want to save this school," Cinkovich said. More than five hundred people have joined the "Help Save the Stanwood High School" Facebook group. Many people are concerned about what closing the school could mean for the community. "That shows that we have a strong community base in our district," said School Board President Tessa Holst. Holst said the decision is a tough one. She said with a declining enrollment and decreasing budget, closing the high school provides savings for the district. "We have a lot of duplication in four buildings. Four lunchrooms, four janitorial staff, four sets of secretaries, you know. So, by consolidating a building we are able to reduce those types of positions instead of reducing programs," Holst said. Some, like Jim Koch, want the board to take more time to come to a conclusion. "I think it just is in the best interest of the school district that the board slow down, understand that the public has got an interest in being informed and having input into their decision," Koch said. Board Vice President Duane Stonerook already knows how he feels. The long-time board member supports the consolidation saying the old building isn't efficient and has space that isn't needed. "Kids matter most, they are what our future is. It has to be our first and foremost concern, and that's what I base my decisions on," Stonerook said. Still, hundreds are making it clear they want the Stanwood school to stay open. "I will not let this go down without a fight," Cinkovich said The school board vote is expected in March. Many people plan to speak up and fight the change until that time.

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