Stillwater School Board votes 5-2 to close 3 elementary schools

The Stillwater School Board decided to close three elementary schools on Thursday night. The final vote by the School Board was 5-2.

The superintendent said the closures of Withrow, Marine, and Oak Park Elementary Schools, all in the northern part of the district, are needed to help balance class sizes and eliminate wasteful spending.

Many parents are angry that the vote had only been delayed three weeks – at the very least, parents say they'd like more time for school board officials to deliberate. Parents also disagree with the decision because the community just approved a $97 million bond to pay for improvements at the schools and deal with overcrowding in the southern part of the district.

Two days ago, a parent filed a lawsuit against Stillwater Public Schools alleging the district misled voters in asking them to approve the bond referendum and promising them schools wouldn’t close.

In response to the lawsuit, Superintendent Denise Pontrelli issued this statement Thursday:

Earlier this week the District was served a lawsuit brought by a single citizen in an attempt to prohibit the School Board from making a decision to close the three elementary schools currently under consideration in the BOLD initiative. In essence, the citizen and her lawyers want a judge to rule that the fact that the voters’ in our School District passed the bond referendum in May 2015 means that the District cannot make this decision about its schools.

Our attorney believes this lawsuit has no merit and is part of a strategy to dictate the Board’s process and decision —regardless of the cost to the District. We are now required to spend significant time and money to defend against this latest attempt to obstruct the legitimate and important decision-making by the School Board as to how best serve all our students and families in Stillwater Area Schools.