Whittier and Lincoln elementary schools are the two schools that Brainerd School District administrators are proposing to be closed by the end of the school year as part of budget reductions, several reliable sources told the Dispatch Tuesday afternoon.
Brainerd school administrators were seen entering the four smallest elementary schools Tuesday afternoon, attending staff meetings conducted simultaneously to announce to school staff which two schools are being proposed for closure by district administration. The meetings started at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at Harrison, Nisswa, Lincoln and Whittier schools.
While the meetings at Harrison and Nisswa schools lasted less than an hour, the staff meetings at Lincoln and Whittier ended between 4:30-5 p.m.
Several Whittier Elementary School staff members left the building together Tuesday afternoon following the school-wide staff meeting after school. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth arrived at Lincoln at about 4:15 p.m. and declined to comment on the meeting. Brainerd Assistant Superintendent Steve Razidlo also attended the Lincoln meeting.
"They're just having their discussions," Walseth said about Lincoln staff members. "I'll leave it at that."
Staff members at all schools were told not to share the information at each of these meetings with anyone, including the media. About a dozen Whittier staff members who had been at the school staff meeting Tuesday all declined to comment and referred questions to the district office. Pat Altrichter, the district elementary curriculum coordinator and former Whittier School principal, attended the Whittier staff meeting.
At Nisswa Elementary School, staffers met with district officials for about 45 minutes in the Nisswa Community Children's Library.
During the meeting, one father picking his son up from school asked if there were "smiles or tears" from the meeting. However, the fate of Nisswa Elementary School was unknown following the meeting as all staffers leaving the building declined to comment on what was discussed at the meeting.
Lincoln Elementary School
As the meeting let out at 4 p.m., Nisswa staffers, one or two at a time, began trickling out of the building to their vehicles. One staffer, when asked how the meeting went, said she couldn't say if there was good or bad news. Staffers' faces, too, failed to tell the story of whether their school was recommended for elimination or saved from the chopping block.
Steve Dickinson, Brainerd School District business manager, attended the Nisswa meeting but deferred all questions to Superintendent Jerry Walseth.
"We're just reminding people that the financial meeting is this Thursday and the administration's recommendations (on which schools will close) will come out at that meeting," Dickinson said.
Whittier Elementary School
Harrison Elementary School staff walked out to their vehicles after the meeting one by one, beginning about 3:45 p.m. About a dozen of them were asked about the staff meeting and all declined to comment. A few teachers directed questions to district administrators. Brainerd Community Education Director Todd Lyscio was the administrator who attended the Harrison meeting and also declined to comment.
A woman leaving Lincoln School said, "We couldn't talk about it if we wanted to."
Two women hugged each other in the Lincoln parking lot as they were leaving.
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