The Marinette School Board will be facing some difficult decisions in the coming months regarding its facilities.

An advisory committee was formed to look into that issue and its findings were presented at Tuesday’s regular board meeting. The committee determined that a three-building configuration would be the most efficient for the district.

The plan —– which is nowhere near a reality — would result in students in grades 8-12 at the high school, students in grades 4-7 at the middle school (intermediate school) and students from early childhood to grade 3 at Park Elementary School.

The Sunrise Early Learning Center, along with Garfield and Merryman elementary schools, would close under this plan. An addition would be built at Park.

The advisory committee was comprised of a mixture of parents, staff, community members, board members and representatives of higher education, government and business. It met three times in June for a total of nine hours of “intense” discussion.

Its decision clearly wasn’t done in haste and we commend those on the panel for their work.

It’s never an easy decision to close a school. It wasn’t that long ago when the Marinette District had those already mentioned, along with Washington, Menekaunee and Porterfield elementary schools. Washington and Porterfield were sold to private entities and Menekaunee was revamped into the Sunrise Early Learning Center.

Neighborhood schools have tradition, character and pride and it’s not easy to give that up.

But the committee, along with Superintendent Wendy Dzurick, is looking at the big picture. Enrollment is down here and in many areas throughout the country. That means state aid is decreasing, while operational costs are going up.

Dzurick pointed out that five of the six buildings in the district currently have empty classrooms and she said that would not be the case under consolidation.

We believe it’s fiscally irresponsible to keep buildings open that have empty classrooms.

Dzurick, in a press release, admitted that nobody likes closing schools, but sometimes it is necessary. “We want to avoid the short term Band-Aid approach and look down the road so that we can be effective for the long-term,” she said.

It’s natural that many parents and residents in the school district are concerned when this type of issue arises. Change, although necessary, is not always easy.

The next action by the school board is to seek more input from the staff and community members. We encourage residents to offer insight and attend public meetings on this topic.

Dzurick said a final decision will not be reached until December and nothing would be implemented until 2021. There’s plenty of time for members of the public to voice their opinions.