Board decides to close East Elementary - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Board decides to close East Elementary

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- Wednesday the Independence school board decided, with a vote of 3-2, to close East Elementary school in order to ease budget problems.

Here's what it means:
--120 Kindergarten through Second graders will be moved from East Elementary to West elementary.
--Fifth graders at West will join Sixth graders at the middle school.
--Seventh & Eighth grades will move on to the high school.

The move - combined with other program cuts - is supposed to save the district nearly 800,000 dollars.

The decision also eliminates 14 school employees -- both teachers and support staff members.

Before the board moved to discuss and vote on the budget cuts, one person spoke to the board saying, the district is still a family even if it means moving into a smaller house.  In this case, the smaller house means reducing four buildings to three.

Tia Shaffer, a middle school Family and Consumer Science teacher, was one of more than 100 people present at Wednesday's board meeting.  The board's decision eliminated her duties.

"I will no longer be teaching middle school family consumer science," Shaffer said.  "I'm also endorsed in elementary programs, so I will move to a Fifth grade position."

Shaffer said high school teachers will take on middle school Family and Consumer Science duties, but the quality will remain the same.

"I believe because they are so passionate about what they do, that they'll persevere," Shaffer said.

As for the board, those who voted against the cuts, simply wanted more time.

"I'm not sure that two more weeks wouldn't have been enough time really to study the situation," Board member John Christensen said.  "We just decided this a month ago.  I needed more time."

Still, they stand by the decision and so do administrators.

"There's obviously a little relief that the decision has been made," said Superintendent Devin Embray.  "But there's still a lot of hard work that's got to happen now, and that starts tomorrow."

Teachers say they may have a few more students in their classroom or perhaps teach in a different building, but they'll continue to teach because it's what they love to do.

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