April 07, 2017 05:59 AM
A small town along the St. Croix River got a big emotional boost after the Stillwater School District agreed to talk about the possibility of selling an elementary school it plans to close this year.
The school district did not want to talk to Marine on St. Croix city leaders about a possible purchase of Marine Elementary until legal challenges to keep the school open were decided in court.
Those legal questions have now been answered, and the Stillwater School District is moving forward with a plan to close Marine Elementary and two other schools at the end of this school year.
But the district has now also agreed to discuss a possible sale of the property with the Marine on St. Croix City Council.
"We are excited, and we are doing our due diligence to have the building and property appraised," Marine on St. Croix City Council member Bill Miller told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
"We are very grateful that the Stillwater School Board is working with us so we can make a fair market value offer to the district to purchase the land and building.
"Our city has had an elementary school for nearly 170 years, and all we want as a community is the opportunity to keep it open as an elementary school, because it really is the heart and soul of this town," he added.
A parents' group has already received state approval to open a charter school serving K-6 students. Housing the charter school at Marine Elementary has always been a hope of the newly-named Grove Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
Grove Elementary organizers said they already have 239 student applications, which is much higher than the current Marine Elementary enrollment of roughly 150 students.
The Stillwater School District declined to comment on negotiations with Marine on St. Croix, but a spokesperson said the district will have the building land appraised and would comment about the possibility of a sale after the district receives its appraisal.
Marine Elementary School, along with Withrow Elementary School and Oak Grove Elementary School, will close sometime in early to late June.