Western Dubuque school board decides to close Bernard Elementary

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FARLEY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Western Dubuque school board Monday voted to close Bernard Elementary in Bernard.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the vote was 4 yes, and 1 person abstained.

Colpitts said it cost too much to keep the school open. Declining enrollment forced the district to send Bernard's kindergarten, second, and fourth grade students to Cascade Elementary. Next year, pre-K, first, and third grade students will join them there.

Bernard has only about 100 residents. And with farm families becoming smaller, the superintendent said, there aren't enough students to keep the school open.

"Farming families used to be much larger families. And now those families aren't as large anymore. They're not having 6, 7, 8, 9,10 kids, They're having 2 or 3. So that was a rural population that would come into the school and now her population has gotten smaller period," said Colpitts.

A lot of parents were upset about the proposal. They said the elementary school is a staple in the community.

Firefighter/parent Jenny White said, "Our fire department comes down here every year and we look forward to it, and teaching the kids. If we lose this school we're gonna lose people coming into this town. Sooner or later it's gonna be like all those other little towns that dissipate and disappear altogether."

Emili Owens said the commute to Cascade Elementary is too far.

"For [my daughter] to go to Cascade, it's a 25 minute drive one way so it doesn't make any sense to go that way. We'd really have to go out of our way if we'd have to drive her there, or pick her up some day to go to a doctors appointment," she said.

Bernard Elementary will close at the end of the year. Teachers will be reassigned to schools in the district.