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      School closing?

      T he Gwinn Area Community Schools Board of Education has a big problem on their hands: a $1.2 million deficit could cause school closures and layoffs next school year.

      T here are a few options for the future, but figuring out what's the best option is the hard part. With such a large deficit looming over their heads, school board officials for Gwinn Area Community Schools have a big decision to make.

      Both Gilbert Elementary School in Gwinn and Sawyer Elementary School in K.I. are in dire need of repairs, both inside and outside the buildings.

      "We owe it to our students and our community to make the right decision that is sustainable and provides longevity for Gwinn Schools. We have one chance to do this right; a plan to reduce current expenses, yet allow for potential future growth. In order to do that, we might have to make some sacrifices," said Gwinn Schools Superintendent Kimberly Tufnell.

      Because the schools need such monetarily hefty repairs done, one option is to move all of the students from both schools to Sawyer Elementary, make repairs on Gilbert Elementary, then move the students back into the newly repaired school and close down Sawyer Elementary.

      Another option is to make repairs to Sawyer, which has more square footage and can house all 575 students in the district, and close Gilbert, which has smaller square footage than Sawyer.

      The last option is to build an elementary addition to the high school.

      But in order to make all of the necessary repairs or construction, the school board will have to go to the public for a bond issue.

      "We can whine and complain about school funding. It's hard--the state's making cuts that they have to make and it affects our kids, and what it really boils down to is we have to choose between the lesser of two evils," said Gwinn Science teacher, Kristy Gollakner.

      No decisions have been made yet.

      Last year, Gwinn Schools made over $700,000 in cuts and still maintained the integrity of the classroom.

      Moving forward, they want to keep this a priority.