WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - After weeks of emotional discussion, the Wichita Public Schools Board of Education is set to decide on closing several schools in the district due to their massive budget shortfall.

The board is recommending closing six elementary and middle schools, many located in south Wichita.

Rachel Herndon lives right across the street from Cleveland Elementary in south Wichita.

One of six that the Wichita school board is set to vote to close down.

"We really enjoyed being a part of Cleveland Elementary," Herndon said. "And, you know, it saddens me that they're going to, you know, try to close it down."

She said that she's worried about what the closure would mean for the safety of the neighborhood.

"A lot of the parents around here have the neighborhood watch, they've got cameras, and I just worry, what would they turn this into? It's not very often we get questionable people through here," Herndon said. "So, what will happen if there's no school here?"

The other schools slated for closure are Hadley and Jardine Middle Schools, and Clark, Park, and Payne Elementary Schools.

Superintendent Kelly Bielefeld said last month a number of factors are contributing to the $42 million budget shortfall, including declining enrollment, and increased maintenance needs.

"We have already made around 9 million and phase one budget cuts," Bielefeld said. "But that's not enough. The board has asked district staff to come back with a $16 million plan for phase two budget reductions. Our desire is to put people above places which is why there is a recommendation to close buildings."

School board president Stan Reeser said that the board doesn't make this decision lightly.

However, he said that the board is dedicated to students and parents in the district, not the buildings.

"I know some people are looking at this one-dimensionally with a line that shows how many students we have versus how many staff we have," Reeser said. "But it's actually a very three-dimensional problem that we have to deal with. And we will take all factors into consideration."

The board will be holding that special meeting Monday night at Wichita North High School starting at 6 PM.

If you would like to speak during the meeting the board says you must sign up ahead of time.

If you would like to speak, you must call the Clerk of the Board at 316-973-4553 before noon Monday. You can also sign up in person as long as you register with him in the board meeting room at North High by 5:50 p.m. Monday.