Maple School Board reverses decision to combine second grade at NES

Fourth and fifth grade students at Iron River Elementary School will be combined for afternoon classes.

A banner hanging outside Iron River Elementary School marks it as a 2018 National Blue Ribbon school.
Maria Lockwood / 2018 file / Superior Telegram

MAPLE — The Maple School Board during a Wednesday, March 8, meeting reversed a decision that would have moved second grade students from Iron River Elementary School to Northwestern Elementary School for the 2023-2024 school year.

“The motion made and seconded was because of hearing Iron River, including the town board, clearly, that it’s more important to keep the Iron River children at Iron River,” said District Administrator Sara Croney.

The footprint of the Grand Foot Path in Douglas County

The new motion, approved unanimously by the board, will leave kindergarten through third grade classrooms at Iron River Elementary as is. It did, however, come at a cost to older students. Fourth and fifth grade students at Iron Rier will learn core classes during the morning in separate classrooms, but be combined under a single teacher in the afternoons for art, music, science and social studies.

The current fourth grade teacher will move to NES to teach second grade, and a part time fourth grade teacher will be hired for Iron River.

Board members said transportation and the mental health of students were among the factors that led them to reconsider the move.


Many community members who had signed up to speak chose not to after hearing the new motion. Others thanked the board for making the change. Heather Miller, an Iron River parent, was feeling a sense of deja vu.

“I was here two years ago, and it was the fifth grade moving to NES and it was unanimously voted against moving them two years ago. So, similar situations,” she told the board. “And I just wish that, moving forward, we could talk before those huge decisions are made, because we don’t want to lose our students.”

Others echoed that thought.

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“It’s critical as elected officials that we have clarity in our communication, we have transparency, and that we seek out solutions from others, not just thinking we can do it ourselves,” said Iron River Town Chairman David Ciembronowicz.

Some parents expressed concern over how combining the fourth and fifth grades would impact student learning.

Board member Gail Saari encouraged parents to bring their concerns over budget cuts to state legislators.

“Let them know how you feel. Not only let us know, let representatives know,” she said.

The board also approved a list of preliminary layoff notices for the 2023-2024 school year due to budget constraints and declining enrollment. The district is facing an anticipated $575,000 shortfall in the coming school year. The list included a high school math and a high school science teacher, a social studies teacher who covers both the high school and middle school, and a middle school health teacher.


In other action:

  • The board approved opening up bids for the building construction class house. The minimum bid is $53,000 and bids must be submitted to the board office by June 5. Students have been building and selling homes for more than 50 years, board Vice President Mike Granlund said. Those interested in touring the home can contact the district office. It will also be open to the public during graduation May 26.
  • Trips to state competition were approved for the nine members of Northwestern High School’s Visual Arts Classic Team, three FCCLA students and 15 FBLA students. FBLA adviser Laura Johnson said they took the largest group ever, 40, to competition this year and won their first chapter award.

This story was updated at 2 p.m. March 10 to correct the minimum bid price for the Northwestern High School building construction house. It was originally posted at 11:09 March 9. The Superior Telegram regrets the error.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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