Green River Star -

Our View: Closure is imminent, but cuts are worse

 

October 18, 2017



The closure of a school impacts an entire community.

It isn’t just the students and staff being moved to another location, nor is it the physical act of closing a building and mothballing it for possible future use.

With the closure of a school, the community loses a place to gather. It loses a gym to dance or practice in. It becomes a loss for everyone involved.

With the school board deliberating on if it will close Jackson Elementary and a final judgement expected to pass in November, there’s time to discuss the value the school brings to Green River. Unfortunately, keeping the school open is out of the question.

The seeds for this were sown last week with Superintendent Donna Little-Kaumo’s initial recommendation, as well as board member Steve Core’s assessment of the building’s condition.

“Jackson school may be our newest elementary school, but it’s in bad shape,” Core said.

We agree with closing the building. A decline in elementary student numbers as well as a projected decline in revenue create a situation where closing a building makes sense. The continued decline in the area’s energy economy has resulted in enrollments declining, naturally reducing the need for elementary school buildings. Though, one area that deserves criticism is the state’s continued insistence to cut education.

One of the reasons why the school building was recommended for closure was due to funds for maintaining schools beginning to dry up. The writing on the wall isn’t just for Jackson Elementary, but the future of education in Wyoming if certain legislators have their way. A memo from the Legislative Service Office referenced by Little-Kaumo shows what could be saved if the legislature decided to increase class sizes.

Long story short: the state could save money, at the cost of school employees across the state.

Closing a school can be an unavoidable decision for a community and it’s one we’re likely going to see with Jackson Elementary. But, as we’ve seen with Harrison Elementary School, it can be a temporary decision. What wouldn’t be temporary would be scaling up classroom sizes and cutting positions to create savings.

Should the legislature move ahead with that goal in mind, it would take a lot more than a few fixes to improve the state’s educational system.

It would be years, if not decades before our children would have the education they deserve.

 

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