Minnesota elementary school could close after land sold to Catholic nonprofit

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A primary school near Stillwater could close after the land it sits on is sold.

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundationowner of the land on which River Grove Elementary School in Wilder Forest near Marine on St. Croix, announced on September 28 that it would sell.

The buyer is another nonprofit, Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership, which intends to use the property for summer camps and winter retreats, and therefore River Grove may move or to close permanently.

An effort to save the school in the form of an $11 million bid to buy the land by the Manitou Fund, which had agreed to extend the River Grove lease as a condition of the purchase, would have come too lateAmherst instead selling to the nonprofit religious organization.

The school’s lease of 600 acres of land owned by the Wilder Foundation was due to expire in June 2023, according to the nonprofit. The land is surrounded by property that makes up Wilder Forest, as shown in this 2019-2020 map.

The parents shared their displeasure, create a petition for the association to reconsider the sale of the land. By Wednesday, the petition had garnered more than 850 signatures.

“I stand for land preservation and conservation and our community of Stillwater needs River Grove and more schools like this! The world needs to educate more diverse children about land stewardship, not just those of one faith. This whole situation is just heartbreaking,” said a community member who signed the petition.

The sale of land also has an impact Large river farmsa program that supports populations who struggle to access resources to establish farms due to systemic racism and xenophobia, according to its website.

“It is concerning that the eviction from a nationally recognized charter school AND space for recent immigrants on the farm is consistent with the mission of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation,” one person wrote. in a comment on Facebook. “Especially since an offer of $11 million to buy the land and keep the school and farm open was flatly rejected.”

It was before reported by the Star Tribune that selling the land would help the foundation pay for the work being done to help those in need in the St. Paul area.

According to the nonprofit’s website, Wilder “prioritizes efforts and resources to support children, families and seniors through essential services.”

The foundation wrote a letter to the community last week, giving an update on the sale of the land.

“We understand the concerns expressed by the parents and administrators of River Grove. At the same time, we are confident that we have acted in good faith with all parties involved and will continue to do so. We know that this sale will have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of people through Wilder’s services as well as the youth who will be served by the Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership,” the Wilder Foundation wrote.

The Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership should reach out to the school and other tenants leasing space on the property to review “potential arrangements” that could benefit everyone.

According to the school’s website, applications are still being accepted for the 2022-2023 school year.

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