by Ashley Flynn
The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County board voted unanimously to close the LaFontaine Elementary School after the current school year.
The board began discussing closure with the public after last April when structural damage was discovered in a classroom.
The damage revealed a corroding beam, which would cost $150,000 to repair. Since the discovery, grades four and five have been moved to Southwood Elementary for safety concerns, leaving only sixth graders in the building for the 2013-2014 school year.
Over the past several months, the board held open discussions with the community to receive feedback and ideas on the issue. Concerned citizens questioned how the move would affect the quality of life in LaFontaine. While the board kept in mind the emotions of the community, they reminded the public that it is their duty to do what is best for the entire school district.
Board members took the time to investigate options and weigh benefits before Dr. Weaver made her recommendation.
“In 1978 our enrollment in the school district was at an all time high at 3,300 students. We have experienced a decline steadily… but we are down to a little over the 2,000 mark,” Dr. Weaver said during the board meeting. “In the 1999-2000 school year, Southwood Elementary had an enrollment of 492. If we close Lafontaine, the projected enrollment for next year at Southwood Elementary would be 479.”
“Why do I tell you that?” she asked, “to let you know that the students will fit in that building.”