Open Letter to the School Board: ‘To Move This Fast is Just Not Wise for Anyone Involved’

My name is Deanne Wessel and my husband Don and I have 7 children, 2 of whom we’ve adopted from Ethiopia. All of our children have attended Stillwater schools, and so far 3 of them have graduated from Stillwater Area High School.

I write with one great concern regarding the referendum to close our 3 elementary schools: Withrow, Marine and Oak Park. My concern is the speed at which this new referendum has been pushed through.

Although it is good that our new Superintendent Denise Pontrelli comes to us with zeal and a fresh vision, it is wrong that she is pushing her agenda along so fast. Any new proposal of this magnitude requires at least 3-5 years of very serious study and ultimately approval from all parties who lead these schools.

I would suggest she consider the history and the pride of these communities here in our beautiful river valley, in particular, Withrow and Marine. We all know that an elementary school is an integral part of any community, especially our smaller ones. If it were an issue of having 2 elementary schools and needing to close 1 of them, that would be an easier issue. Mrs.Pontrelli needs to take the needed time to hear the voices of the individuals who do the planning for the future of these small, but great places.

I was once wisely told that a newcomer to any big business needs a good year to find all of the light switches.

To move this fast is just not wise for anyone involved. Our new superintendent demonstrates good energy, but in this case her zeal needs to be tempered with more time for collective research, discussion and thought. May she then use subsequent years to make proposals and to write referendums.

Best regards for the common good of all,

Deanne Wessel