Ruth Mercer Elementary Students Will Head South

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
South Elementary School, in Warsaw, will increase its student rolls this coming school year as about 72 pre-kindergarten and 35 to 40 Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) students move to its campus, after closure of Ruth Mercer Elementary (RME). Enrollment is expected to expand even more at South by the end of the 2019/2020 school year, as the ECSE classes traditionally enlarge to about 60 students in later months. In addition, Dr. Poyser, R-IX District Superintendent, predicts that the new, full-day pre-kindergarten schedule, that is favored by parents, will promote more enrollments. Kindergarten and ECSE have been and will continue to be full-day classes.
“I like the idea of having the PreK kids all day,” said Dr. Poyser. “We need to have them as long as we can to prepare them for kindergarten and the rest of elementary school. There are many studies showing that preschool programs can make these children more prepared for school, especially in early literacy and mathematics skills.” (example -
“With pre-school enrollment numbers for next year currently at 72 students, this means that we are reaching most of our families with students that are pre-school eligible,” said Jared Wallace, South School Principal. “With the addition of a full day pre-school we are excited about the academic and social gains we will see.  With the current enrollment numbers we are going to have four pre-school teachers next year. They are  Kristy Henderson, Lucy Bell, Dusty McGovern, and Annette Vogel.”
The growing student body at South necessitates the need for more space on the campus, and the district has invited contractors to submit sealed bids for building a mobile classroom unit. Plans are for the mobile unit to contain two classrooms and two bathrooms. The State will reimburse the district for the cost for the mobile unit. 
A decision was made earlier this year to close RME to save the district money. There has been a loss of more than 200 students in the district during the last decade amounting to lost revenue of more than $1.2 million. The school is located on property owned by City Union Mission and the building will revert back to the Mission. The good news is that all teachers and paraprofessional staff from RME remain employed in the district.
Ruth Mercer Elementary was an early childhood building, housing early childhood special education, preschool, and kindergarten. The campus was located at 12947 Highway Z, Warsaw, approximately seven miles north of Warsaw off Highway 7. 
Many years ago the original building served grades K-8 in three rooms, as Benton County R-X. When the Warsaw R-IX School District acquired the facility it was used for storage and later served kindergarten students from the North Elementary attendance area.  In 2008 a bond issue was passed for construction of classrooms for first and second grade, an art room, music room, gymnasium and cafeteria/kitchen.
The school was named in honor and memory of Ruth Mercer, an early childhood educator for over 25 years in the Warsaw R-IX School District.