Valley Parents and Community Members Throwing a ‘Celebrate Our Schools Fundraising Party’ on Saturday

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The proposed closure of three elementary schools has created a devastating divide in the St. Croix River Valley. Without a doubt, there’s a lot of healing that will need to happen in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.

A group of  parents and community members of School District 834 are hosting a fundraising event on to show support for our local schools that have been proposed to be closed by the BOLD Proposal from 4-8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 5 at the Withrow Ballroom and Event Center.

“This is a gathering for all schools, all community members, all ages to come together and celebrate the strong community we have,” said Laurel Anderson, a parent organizer of the Celebrate Our Schools Fundraising Party.

“BOLD has caused too much divide and angst since it was announced in December, so many local business owners, parents and grandparents have rallied together in support of our kids — to save these schools,” she said. “We are determined to bring the community together and celebrate the truly unique choices we have in Stillwater.”

There will be live music, food, kids activity, silent auction items, raffles, a bake sale and a live auction. The online auction is taking place until March 4.

A large screen has been donated for the party, so people can watch the Ponies hockey game, if, and hopefully when, the boys play for the Minnesota State High School Hockey title.

“The funds raised at this event will go to a Legal Fund if needed to save the schools,” the event’s online auction reads. “In the event that funds are not needed for legal, they will be distributed to the local school children through either the PTO’s or through The Partnership Plan. We are hopeful for a no vote on March 3, and that no further legal action is needed following the vote to protect our beloved schools.”

834 VOICE (VOters Invested in our Children’s Education), a nonprofit organization of Stillwater school district parents and residents announced last month that it had retained Fritz Knaak as legal counsel and formally notified Stillwater Area Public Schools of its intention to bring a lawsuit against the school district.

834 VOICE formed to “effectively block the efforts” by the school district to close Marine, Oak Park and Withrow elementary schools.

The group’s Notice of Claim alleges the district violated open meeting laws in its efforts to pass the BOLD proposal. The Notice of Claim also alleges the “Board ignored its own evidence and made its decision on the matter without paying attention to its own data and for political expediency.”

Melissa Douglas, a Stillwater parent has also filed a petition in Washington County District Court to require the Stillwater Area School District to improve elementary schools in accordance with the May 12, 2015 bond question approved by voters or seek new voter approval for a changed purpose.

A writ of mandamus is an order to require the School District to obey the law ― in this case alleging, District 834 “exceeded its authority and failed to meet its statutory obligations to the voters who approved the bond referendum.”

The Stillwater Area Public Schools Board of Education is expected to vote on the BOLD proposal on Thursday, March 3 at Stillwater Junior High.

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