Parents vow to fight for Whittier Elementary School - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Parents vow to fight for Whittier Elementary School

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Whittier Elementary School students were shocked when they brought a letter home to their parents last week. It contained news that the school district is considering closing their building.

"I just totally freaked out. I was like, 'Oh my gosh they're closing Whittier?' It's like one of the best schools ever," said fourth grader Julian Hebert.

As soon as they got that letter, parents started talking about how they could save the 111-year-old school. Monday night, they gathered to find some clarity to what they're calling an abrupt announcement.

"The education she gets at Whittier is second to none and I'm here to make sure that continues," Whittier parent Paul Speidel said of his daughter's experience at the school.

"They always talk about fiscal responsibility, but they don't really look at history. They don't look at the emotional side," said Whittier parent Nick Hebert.

Sioux City superintendent Paul Gausman says aging buildings are the problem. How to replace them is a challenging solution.

"We have to make some difficult decisions. We know that we have six other building projects we'd like to do for elementary. We've only got the funds to do three, maybe four of those projects," said Gausman.

When Sioux City voters rejected the renewal of a levy that uses sales tax revenue to pay for school construction, it cut off the funding that would pay for a whole new building. Gausman says that's the solution he would prefer for Whittier, but since that's not possible, the district has to get creative.

"Where we can take one of the oldest items in district inventory out of the inventory without building another school to replace it," said Gausman.

If Whittier does close, students would be split up and moved to other schools in the Morningside area.

Parents say Whittier is a family and they want to keep it that way.

"By having this school, they have the ability to give them the one on one close relationship that they have," said Nick Hebert.

"How can I not fight for that?" said Speidel.

The school board will discuss the proposal in September or October. Before they do, Gausman says a public meeting will be scheduled to inform people about the data backing their proposal. If approved, Whittier could close as early as the end of the current school year.

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