Tuesday night, the Lennox School Board finalized its plan to make up for the loss of more than $300,000 in state aid. A big part involves temporarily closing down an elementary school.
Lennox School District now knows the answer to its budget questions. Most athletic and extra-curricular activities across the district suffer small blows, and it will close the doors for at least a year at Chancellor Elementary where 50 students now learn.
“If the things change, if the revenue lost comes back, then the board could decide if they want to continue operations there,” said Lennox Superintendent Robert Mayer.
When school starts next fall, elementary school students in Chancellor will be bused here to Lennox Elementary, a move that saves the district more than $200,000.
“I don’t like the process at all. I don’t think anybody does,” said Mayer.
School officials say most of the staff at Chancellor Elementary will keep their jobs. Three of the four teachers will be reassigned, and administrators hope to find a position for the fourth. But, that doesn’t mean the decision to temporarily close the school in this town of 260 sits well with anyone.
“In a consolidated district like this one, it pits communities against communities,” said Mayer.
Officials say when Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed cutting school funding, public interest in education increased. They hope people keep speaking out, so Chancellor’s school doesn’t stay closed forever.
“School board members, school administrators, teachers are not listened to by the Legislature, but they are when parents get themselves involved,” said Mayer.
While the writing may be on the wall for the coming school year, district officials say they’ll fight for more funding in 2012.
Mayer says the deadline to decide whether to close the school or reopen it will be in December, so the matter can be put to a public vote.