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School Board Votes to Close Historic 1889 Grantsdale School in Hamilton

Grantsdale Bell tower
Photo courtesy of Margo Calder

The school bell outside Grantsdale Elementary in Hamilton has been ringing for classes and recess since the school’s founding by Henry Grant in 1889. After a school board decision on Monday, February 25, however, Grantsdale’s bell will ring to let children loose for the last time on June 6 of this year.

The final vote by the school board was split 5 – 2 to consolidate the students and teachers of Grantsdale Elementary into Daly Elementary.

Though the bell has remained, the original two story stone school house was replaced in the 1930s with a more modern building that has become increasingly more costly to manage.

“The problem is that buildings age and the repairs have to be made and, traditionally, mill levies have not been historically passed in Hamilton,” explains Grantsdale School Principal Kathleen Dent. “So at this point Hamilton school district is running at about 86.5% of their allotted money whereas most districts run at 100%.”

Dent had hoped for a different outcome and expressed regret that the Hamilton community would lose Grantsdale. “With this decision Hamilton loses any choice in schools for parents . . a lot of the parents that choose to come out here to Grantsdale like the smaller classrooms and the country atmosphere, so I think having school choice is important and now we’re going to lose that.”

Dent describes her school as one staffed with “master teachers” who are tasked with bringing “intensive education opportunities to students who are the neediest in the district.” As an example of the high poverty level of the students in Grantsdale, Dent noted that nearly 65% of the students partake in the free/reduced lunch program.

Still, despite the hurdles, Grantsdale usually made it on the Office of Public Instruction’s list of schools that make Adequate Yearly Progress

Kathleen Dent:

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Along with the students, nearly all of the teachers and staff from Grantsdale will relocate to Daly elementary where construction and building modification plans are already underway.

Decisions are still being made on what to do with the landmark 1889 Grantsdale bell and bell tower, which was built by parents of students in 1997. Dent says the bell is a unique piece of history that needs to stay in the community. It could be located to another spot in town or donated to a local museum.

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