Oshkosh school board to consider closing Smith Elementary

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A number of parents in Oshkosh are expressing concern over a plan that could potentially close the 124-year-old Smith Elementary School.

Smith Elementary School in Oshkosh (WBAY photo)

The school on South Oregon Street is in need of repairs that could cost as much as $3.7 million.

As one of the oldest buildings in the Oshkosh School District, constructed in 1895, Smith Elementary now needs some major work, but parents say they had no idea until just recently that it might actually close.

That's why many voiced frustration before the school board Wednesday night.

"I understand that there is a situation here, but however, with all due respect, this was rolled out very, very quickly," said Jen Sullivan, a parent with kids attending the school.

Smith Elementary teacher Amanda Curtis added, "Being told that we suddenly have 3.3 million dollars in repairs kind of came out of the blue."

That $3.3 million is to address long term needs such as upgraded plumbing, new flooring and even backup generators, but now the district says the roof needs immediate attention.

Replacing it adds another $414,000 to the bill.

Superintendent Vickie Cartwright responded, "As to where we would gain that funding are ways in which we would have to really look at our budget much closer."

Right now 162 students attend the school, which is down slightly from years past, but it's the smallest enrollment in the district. The district recommendation is to transfer those kids to Jefferson Elementary.

Cartwright added, "Jefferson Elementary School, from the location of Smith Elementary to Jefferson Elementary is eight-tenths of a mile away."

Some spoke in favor of that plan.

"One of the things I've learned is when you start opening up a building it gets worse and it gets more costly. You don't even know at this point how much more you might encounter," said Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff.

The school board is expected to vote on this June 5.

However, three informational sessions for the community will be held before that.

The first one is Thursday, May 23, at 6 P.M. at Smith Elementary.

The other meetings are Tuesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Elementary, and Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. at Shapiro STEM Academy.

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