Dear Rice Elementary School parents and guardians,
I am writing to inform you that I am making the very difficult decision to close one of our elementary school buildings at the end of this school year. This is due to continued declining enrollment and current building usage rates in Mentor Public Schools. After careful consideration of the data and options, it became evident that it is in the district’s best interest to close Rice Elementary School at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
Rice Elementary School currently has the lowest enrollment in the district with 282 students, which means we’re operating the building at a utilization rate of 72.6 percent of its capacity. Enrollment at Rice is projected to drop even further next school year to 260 students, bringing the projected utilization rate to 66.5 percent. Additionally, the enrollment projections indicate there is space in neighboring elementary schools to welcome Rice students in 2015-2016.
We are early in the planning stages of this building closure but felt you should have this information as soon as possible. The next step in this process will be for our team to work to ensure all Rice students have a successful transition to their new schools. The new attendance boundaries will be set by January 30, and we will immediately notify you of your child(ren)’s placement. We will make sure all Rice students have the opportunity to visit their new schools before the end of this school year as part of the transition process.
To begin the transition, it may be best for you to talk about the closure of Rice Elementary with your child(ren) in a manner you feel is appropriate for your family tonight. I anticipate many people will be talking about this tomorrow at school, and our teachers will be prepared to share the information that is available at this time. We are confident our dedicated professionals at Rice Elementary School will do everything they can to ensure a smooth transition for their students. It is also our goal to place Rice staff members in openings at other buildings as the reassignment of students and retirements are announced.
I know this news is difficult to receive. All of our schools in Mentor are supported by tight-knit community spirit and are full of their own unique traditions, and Rice Elementary School is a great example of that. It’s one of many reasons this decision is very hard. But, we have to look at the district as a whole and how we spend the community’s tax dollars. It would not be financially responsible to continue to operate the building at such a low capacity rate.
To help answer any questions you may have, I will hold a community meeting on Monday, February 2 at 6:00 p.m. at Rice Elementary School. At that time, I will share any new information we have about the transition plan as our team is working on the details every day.
Thank you for your continued support of Mentor Public Schools.
Mentor Public Schools