MIDDLE RIVER, Minn. -- A rural school will close this summer after serving a small Marshall County community for nearly 70 years.

The Greenbush Middle River School Board voted 5-2 Monday night, May 8, to close the Middle River School by the end of the school year in June. The last day of classes is May 24, and all of next year’s students will attend school in Greenbush, Minn.

Years of discussion have led to Monday’s decision, District Superintendent Tom Jerome said. He pointed to the district’s student numbers, which have been nearly cut in half in the last 20 years -- from 608 student in 1997 to 318 children this year, according to school administration.

On top of that, the district is projected to have a deficit of almost $520,000. Closing the Middle River School would save the district more than $400,000 in operating costs, Jerome said.

“The district has a responsibility to manage the funds that they have,” he said, adding that its mission is to provide the best quality education for all of its children.

The district hasn’t decided what will happen to the building after the school closes, Jerome said.

Middle River is located about 20 miles north of Thief River Falls.