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Grand Forks Air Force Base to close school

Apr. 16, 2014 - 01:48PM   |  
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Grand Forks Air Force Base School Board has voted to close an elementary school to deal with declining enrollment on the northeastern North Dakota base.

Starting next school year, students from Carl Ben Eielson Elementary School will go to Nathan F. Twining Elementary and Middle School. The move ends years of debate and will save the base and Grand Forks school districts more than half a million dollars annually, KNOX radio reported.

“I know it was a difficult decision for the school board to make,” Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nybladh said in a statement. “However, it speaks to their resolve to find efficiencies.”

There currently are about 350 students on base, down from a peak of about 1,500 in 1995, when the base still had its KC-135 air refueling tanker mission. The base lost that mission in the last round of military base closings, in 2005. It has since gained a smaller unmanned aircraft mission but still has lost about half of is population and is down to about 2,400 people.

Discussion about consolidating the two base schools began in 2008.

The Eielson building will still be maintained in the event student population grows and additional capacity is needed. However, even with the consolidation, Twining school will still be at only about 36 percent capacity.

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