Budget Cuts Force School Closure

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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March 9, 2010

More classroom cuts are causing a Kansas school to shut its doors indefinitely. The Clearwater school district is battling budget problems by closing one of its buildings.

Next year, more than 100 Clearwater students will move into a different building. The move will force all students pre-kindergarten through third grade to attend class in the same building. Administrators say the closure is not something they want to do, but they also say it's necessary.

"I hate to use the word desperate, but really that's where we're at as a school district and as education as a whole in the state of Kansas," said Clearwater Superintendent Mike Roth.

It's a reality that hits hard for teachers like Leslie Rainey.

"It's really a passion. You don't do this job for the money, and you don't do this job for the glory, you do it because you love kids," said Rainey.

Rainey says that's why next year's budget cuts are going to hurt.

"It's shocking, it's really going to be a shock to try and absorb and fill in all of the holes that we're going to have," said Rainey.

Rainey teaches speech at two Clearwater elementary schools. But next year, only one will remain open. The Clearwater board of education unanimously approved the closure of Elementary East Tuesday.

"These are the types of decisions that aren't easy, these aren't the types of decisions that we go out and say, 'Oh, let's close a building today,' said Roth.

But administrators say closing the school will save up to $170,000. The district is making up for an anticipated deficit of more than $775,000.

"What we're doing is what we believe is best for our district at this time, but by no means are we endorsing it as what's best for kids," said Roth.

But administrators say the closure will save some jobs, which is good news for teachers like Rainey.

"It's the people that make the learning happen, it's not the building," said Rainey.

The district says even with the school closure, it will still have to cut jobs. But administrators say they hope to keep class sizes the same, and they plan on re-opening the school at some point in the future.

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