St. Louis Co. School Board Approves Merger

By KBJR News 1

January 31, 2011 Updated Feb 1, 2011 at 9:36 AM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - That decision came down after a special meeting was held Monday evening in Virginia.

It's all part of a district wide revamp independent school district 2142 is in the midst of.

In a four to three vote, ISD 2142 approved the merger of Cook and Orr schools for the 2011–2012 school year.

"Tonight was a difficult decision for the school board to make but what it means is that we'll close the Orr school down for next year, bring the students down to Cook for a year while they build the new school in the north," said ISD 2142 Superintendent Dr. Charles Rick.

As part of a district make over, four schools within the district will be closing.

Construction on the south end for the combined school of Albrook and Cotton has already begun.

The north site has yet to see construction on the proposed site and will now open a year behind schedule.

"There is a lot of thought and emotion and feelings about closing any school at any time," said Rick.

Zelda Bruns serves as the chair of the ISD 2142 school board and disagrees with the board's decision.

"I believe it would have been far, far better for everyone concerned to wait until the new building is in operation and have them all come together in a new building that was a new community school," said Bruns.

Bruns says that along with students from Orr being in three different schools in three years, another disadvantage to combining the schools could be the loss of students from the Nett Lake community.

"In 7th grade their students do attend the Orr school, they've been attending since 1940, so I consider them a very important part," said Bruns.

Bruns says the potential loss of students from the Nett Lake community could have detrimental effects on the nearly $400,000 that could be saved by combining the schools.

District officials says more meetings will be scheduled to discuss new schedules for the new school.