‘Extremely disappointed’: Officials react to school board’s decision to shut down Newcastle school

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NEWCASTLE, Neb. (KCAU) — As July comes to an end, schools in Siouxland are preparing for kids to return once more. But for one northeast Nebraska town, back to school just won’t feel the same.

Newcastle has had school in session dating back to the 1890s, with some reports dating the first school to the 1870s. It’s why the sudden closure of their elementary school last month has left residents disappointment for the end of an era.

The lights are still on, there’s still staff maintaining the Newcastle School, but no kids will walk the halls this fall.

“Everyone’s kind of shocked, extremely disappointed in the decision that was made,” said Jess Gotch.

The gym, home to many memories and achievements, renovated just six years ago, now sits empty and unused. An addition complete with a library and office in 2009 is now at risk for being abandoned, with no plans for the future in sight.

The Hartington-Newcastle School Board decide to close down the school on a 5-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote, Dana Rosoner, said the community feels hurt with the loss.

“The community always takes pride in that school, so I think it was hard on everyone originally when the consolidation happened, and then I believe we all adjusted, but I think this has kind of brought up those same sad emotions again,” Rosoner, the Vice President of the Hartington-Newcastle School Board, said.

Hartington School administrators claim the move should’ve been made years ago because of the dwindling enrollments numbers at Newcastle.

Jess Gotch continues to work in the school office and would’ve liked to see the preschool remain open.

“It’s caused a huge daycare need and our town is just not able to accommodate all of the daycare when people are deciding not to send their kids to preschool at all in lieu of sending them 30 miles,” Gotch said.

Still, Gotch remains optimistic for the town’s future and the kids who grow up there.

“I feel like we really do a good job of no matter where people send their kids to school, no matter where the kids go to school, you know when you’re here, you’re Newcastle,” said Gotch.

Nothing has been made official in regards to the Newcastle building but Gotch said she’d like to see it turned into a community center or a child care facility. Both her and Rosoner hope the board will take the time to listen to the community’s ideas for the space.

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