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'It's so sad. We love Briscoe.'

Ashland students, parents and teachers feel sense of loss for school chosen to close

ASHLAND ' Tuesday's gray skies and cold rain seemed all too appropriate for those affected by Briscoe Elementary School's looming closure.

The weather fits, said parent Richard Presicci, who has two children enrolled at Briscoe. This is a hard decision for everybody. We've got a pretty tight group. It's about like its own culture.

It's so sad. We love Briscoe, added fourth-grader Kathryn Reynolds. I'm going to miss coming here.

Citing budget cuts, declining enrollment and dwindling state funds, the Ashland School Board on Monday voted to close Briscoe in June.

The board also agreed that Lincoln Elementary School will follow if the district's elementary school population drops below 1,050 students, or finances worsen.

The decision didn't come as a surprise to many. The idea was proposed last year, and community involvement remained strong throughout the process.

We're not real happy about it, but we understand, said Briscoe parent Len Eisenberg. I just wish it wasn't our school.

Tuesday morning, teachers at Briscoe took time out of their regular curriculum to talk about the closure and how students were feeling.

There's been a cascade of questions, said Principal Michelle Zundel. The kids had questions, ranging from what school will I go to, to what's going to happen to the building.

Some students expressed excitement over a new school next year, but the majority were unhappy with the closure.

I'm going to miss my teacher the most, said second-grader Derek Reynolds. She (Martha Wilhelm) is my favorite teacher, ever. She's really nice.

I like this school because it's kind of small and easy to find your way around, added fourth-grader Savannah Kahn. I'm going to miss the books in the libraries.

Despite their sadness, parents and teachers on Tuesday remained positive for the benefit of the students.

To me, it's the quintessential elementary school. It's a beautiful building; the teachers are wonderful, said Briscoe parent Joyce VanAnne. It's hard for everyone involved. But kids are adaptable.

Briscoe's 217 students will be transferred to different elementary schools in Ashland next year, although the boundaries have not been set.

Zundel said Briscoe's entire teaching staff told her they did not want to speak with the media.

Countdown to final bell

The Ashland School Board's decision Monday night to close Briscoe Elementary School in June raised a number of questions from students, parents and teaching staff.

School officials have drawn up a timeline to ease the transition.

Jan. 13

' New attendance boundaries will be presented to the board.

Mid-January

' Families will be notified of new school assignments.

Late January

' Briscoe's teachers will be reassigned to other schools for 2003-04.

Mid-February

' Ashland elementary schools receiving new students will host open houses.

Late February

' Families can request zone transfers from the district.

February-March

' Principals will review zone transfer requests and student placements.

Prior to spring break

' Families will be notified regarding zone transfers.

Len Eisenbergcq and his daughter, Jane, walk away from Ashland?s Briscoe Elementary School on Tuesday. They were saddened by news of the school?s pending closure. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli