Thursday, January 21, 2010

High School Decision to Come in February

400 people attended the public meeting earlier this month with regard to the potential elimination of one of the high schools in the Hickman Mills C-1 school district here in South Kansas City. I figured this idea would get a few people fired up. There are Facebook groups "Save Ruskin", "Save Hickman Mills" with about 1000 members on each per the KC Star. The decision will probably come about in February's school board meeting, on the 18th, as teacher's contracts must be offered and athletic schedules must be made. Both The Star and The Jackson County Advocate are reporting that the decision may well be made when the school board gets together this weekend to talk about it.

I am not a graduate of either Hickman Mills or Ruskin, but I do know what it is like to have your school threatened with closure. My school in Vermont has experienced the same factors, only smaller: Two town businesses shut down, and enrollment has been declining over the years. (Vermont is actually a very old state population-wise, with a median age in the top five in the US.) If my school were to close, it would hurt, but I also know that it is the right thing to do; carrying the school will burden the people with taxes and hurt the town. For my high school, in my opinion, it is only a matter of time before it is closed. Unfortunately, Hickman Mills C-1 is in the same boat as my hometown school; lower enrollment, closed businesses/decreased income. It looks like the nasty demographic and financial writing is on the wall; one school will close. Which one will close? I have to leave that to the school board; they know more about which school is functioning at a higher level, or would be easier to close, or easier to repurpose, or a thousand other factors that they have to consider. (I would be willing to bet that a few on the school board are thinking to themselves, "I did not sign up for this.") One thing I do know: one group on Facebook is going to be very disappointed after the decision is made.

The Kansas City Star article: "Feelings run deep as district mulls fates of Ruskin, Hickman Mills high schools" Read the comments on the article too. The most intriguing one? The one about marching on the central office to ask about costs. The scariest one? The one speculating that merging the school populations might result in trouble.

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