When Hunter Cox heard his elementary school is closing next year, he told his mom, “If they would just stay open one more year, the fourth-graders could go to fifth grade.”

But, his mom, Beatrice Cox, asked, “Then what about the third-graders?”

Hunter, a Fowler Elementary School fourth-grader, said, “Then just one more year.”

After some back and forth, Cox said Hunter realized there’s nothing he could do to keep the school from closing.

“He knows he’s not going to be able to see all the same people when (school) comes next year,” said Cox, who also attended Fowler in the 1980s. “(It’s) just the anxiety of starting a new year at a new school with all these new faces. He takes in so much and is a very impressionable kid.”

The Killeen Independent School District board of trustees voted Tuesday to close Fowler Elementary at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The school opened in 1956.

Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller said closing the school was driven by a business plan that helps the district use resources more efficiently.

He said the decision to close the campus was difficult and not taken lightly.

However, Lillian Billie, who has taught music at Fowler for almost 40 years, said she wishes the district could have rezoned to increase enrollment at Fowler and keep it open.

“We’re a family and my kids here are like my family and that’s the atmosphere,” Billie said. “We just love our kids and it’s just hard to know that you’re not going to have the same family. We will have a family, just not this family.”

Billie’s sad that she won’t be able to watch students walk to and from the “neighborhood school,” which serves about 360 students.

But, she is teaching her students to find some good in it.

“The children, they’re going to make new friends and new teachers that love them just like we love them,” Billie said.

“Being in a military town, I think they will adapt.”

The Fowler staff will move to the 33rd, yet-to-be-named elementary school, which will open during the 2014-2015 year.

“I would like to thank the staff at Fowler. I know it is difficult news, but you’re team players,” Muller said. “Another advantage in terms of moving the staff from Fowler to Elementary 33 is that they will start with an experienced staff who can hit the ground running. You really can’t put a value on that.”

Parents who want to know which school zone their children are in for the 2014-2015 school year can do so by typing their street name in a search engine on the Attendance Zones/Rezoning page of Killeen ISD’s website.

“It makes no sense to me,” Cox said. “I just (want) it to stay there so these kids can continue to enjoy their education there. ... We’ll be sad. It’s been there for so long.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at SarahRafique or "like" Sarah Rafique.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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