NEWTON, Iowa — Some parents in Newton are planning to gather over 200 signatures in an effort to have the Newton School Board change its new grade realignment plan. The board voted to close two elementary schools and consolidate pre-K to fourth grade students into two buildings.

The District plans to place pre-K through first grade into Thomas Jefferson Elementary school. Second Grade to fourth grade would be at Emerson Hough Elementary school — that would leave Aurora Heights and Woodrow Wilson Schools closed.

Parents Jackie Carson and Jennifer Parsons are working with a group of around six moms who want to ask the Newton School Board to re-visit the issue. They said closing Aurora Heights would impact an area of town, and many elementary aged students would not be able to walk to school.

“Both of us where we’re coming from is not necessarily the why they’re closing, but more of the decision of the split between doing preschool to first grade and one building together and then second through fourth grade in a building together,” said Carson. There are a number of families and teachers, we don’t want to see the grades split through one and two through four, and that is our main focus, and all of this is we don’t want the grades to be split that way.” 

“We understand that our community cannot sustain four elementary schools,” said Parsons. “We were given three options and they asked us to vote and this option of splitting the grades was the least favorite option.” 

Both women acknowledge this is a hard decision, and the school board and community have examined this and talked about what to do over many weeks leading up to the decision.

This week the Newton School District published a comment regarding the decision on the school’s website.

“This has been, and will continue to be, a challenging topic for our school district and community. As we move forward with further specific planning pieces around this future change, we remain committed to open and transparent dialogue. Moving forward, we anticipate continued work sessions with staff, administration, and consultants on all the moving parts regarding the transition towards this change.”