Northwest School Board votes to close Chapman Elementary

The Northwest School Board hosts a meeting to announce the closure of Chapman Elementary School. (Credit: Alicia Naspretto, KSNB)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - During an emotional Northwest School Board meeting, it was decided that Chapman Elementary will be closing at the end of the 2020 school year. The decision comes almost three years after the idea was first publicly announced.

Many parents, community members and past Chapman students spoke to the board before the decision was made, asking them to please reconsider.

"That school is part of the community. That community is part of who I am," Dr. Tyler Pool, a Chapman graduate, said. "They build and stand up for one another. They may get knocked down, but they'll just keep getting back up."

"We need Chapman. Chapman is the cornerstone of Northwest School District," Abby Thomas, who has been very vocal against the closure recently said to the board. "Are you sure you won't fall after knocking out the cornerstone?"

Some landowners even saying they would move to another school district if the closure went through.

The motion to close was introduced by Bret Mader and seconded by Robin Schutt.

"I feel a responsibility to follow the desires of those who have elected me into this position," Mader said in his comments. "I have searched my heart for what's right for the kids."

The only two to vote against the closure were Mike Shafer and Karl Quandt.

"There are issues we need to look at, but I think we are moving too fast at this point," Quandt said to a round of applause from the audience. He said he wanted to take some time to see what their other options were.

Despite rumors of the more than $800,000 that this closure will save the district, Board President Dan Leiser said that money will not be going towards a building project such as a gym.

The district will be letting go of eight Full-Time Equivalent positions and offering early retirement to their teachers who want to take advantage of that program. One teacher's application was accepted at Monday's meeting.