Marquette parents heartbroken over school's closure

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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LINDSBORG, Kan. -- A central Kansas community is heartbroken to be losing its last school.

The USD 400 Smoky Valley Board of Education voted 6-1 Monday night to close Marquette Elementary, citing the need to reduce district expenditures.

"You can't ask for a better community or better school or better kids," said Dori Weber, a Marquette mother.
Weber was one of the parents who fought back tears as the school board prepared to discuss the school's closure. Adding to the sting is the fact Marquette Elementary was recently listed among the top five percent of Kansas elementary schools in math and reading performance.

"We have great teachers; great administration," Weber said. "Our kids are wonderful. We just got our top five percent grade school in Kansas, so we're pretty happy about that."

Not just parents are upset by the school's closure. Steve Piper of Marquette said the school is a major part of the town's identity.

"We've worked hard to build our town and Marquette is a very, very nice little town," Piper said. "In fact, we don't have any empty store buildings in Marquette. They're all being used by businesses, so we're very proud of that."

Susan McDonald, another Marquette resident, who teaches at Kansas Wesleyan University, told the board it should wait for the Kansas Supreme Court to issue its ruling in a lawsuit over school funding before making a decision.

"It's sad for the students, it's sad for the community and the parents are just worried about how their kids are going to get a good education," McDonald said.

The district said it has to cut about $400,000 in costs and closing Marquette, sending its 67 students to school eight miles away in Lindsborg was the best option from a list of only bad options.

"We understand," Weber said. "We just hope everyone can understand that our hearts are broken."

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