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Benzie County School Board Approves Decision to Close Platte River Elementary

Promo Image: Benzie County School Board Approves Decision to Close Platte River Elementary

“Hopefully as a district we can work together to make that transition easier for the kids one school to another,” said Julie Sullivan.

Benzie Central parents are looking toward the future after a difficult school board decision on Monday night.

School board members unanimously approved Superintendent Matt Olson’s recommendation to consolidate two of their elementary schools.

Platte River Students will move to Crystal Lake Elementary and the Platte River Elementary building will be repurposed.

Benzie Central faces a $300,000 budget deficit and closing Platte River could save the district almost $250,000.

It’s a plan that parents and the community have been discussing with the school board, who made their decision on Monday night.

“We will be pulling our kids out of the school. I will definitely be pulling my kids out of the school,” said Belinda Keyes and Bridget Suchorski.

The auditorium at Benzie Central Middle School was filled with mixed emotions after the school board made the difficult decision to merge two of their schools.

"It was a very, very tough decision for the whole board as you well heard. It’s nice to have it behind us simply because now we can move forward for the future of Benzie Central Schools," said Doug Taylor, president of the Benzie County School Board.

Several meetings and countless hours of research went into making the decision. Board members believe it’s the best route to close the gap on their budget deficit.

“I’m sorry they’re upset and it was a difficult thing to do but ultimately the board felt looking at all the parameters that we had to deal with, that this was the best decision for our school district and for the children of our school district," said Taylor.

Not having enough space for more kids, students’ safety, and the condition of Crystal Lake Elementary are just a few of the concerns parents had.

“It was perfect for 150 kids, next fall it’s going to be 300 or more. That’s not going to be so perfect,” said Keyes. “And I just don’t understand how they are going to get all those little kids, to get in there, and eat lunch, in that little crowded place.”

The superintendent will now begin putting a plan together for the consolidation for the 2017-2018 school year.