Tempers Flare As CCR-1 Board Discusses Possible Running Fox Closure
By Mike Scott
Tempers flared at Thursday night’s Clark County R-1 School Board meeting as many residents from the eastern part of Clark County showed up an expressed their displeasure at the board’s discussion of closing Running Fox Elementary. The proposed discussion was first reported Tuesday afternoon on NEMOnews.net. The meeting was moved to the Middle School library to accommodate those attending.
CCR-1 Board President Bill Schutte introduced the discussion, saying, “Now is the time to discuss the 900 pound gorilla in the room. Do we need two elementary schools?”
In a written handout to the board, Schutte presented his reasons for the proposal. First, the district has the lowest operating levy allowed by state law, and costs are rapidly increasing. “Before we ask voters for an operating levy increase, we need to look at our internal cost structure,” his handout read. His second reason assumes that the income/cost squeeze facing the district will continue, and the that the board needs to take proactive steps now to assure CCR-1 remains a viable and progressive school 10-15 years from now.
Schutte, using rough estimates provided by CCR-1 Superintendent Ritchie Kracht, stated that closing Running Fox would result in an annual cost reduction of $160,000 to $175,000, while the district still owns the building, and approximately $190,000 after the property was sold.
Parent attending expressed their concern over several issues, including the addition travel time for students, to loss of parent involvement in the schools, extra costs for attending school activities in Kahoka, and a loss of their community collection. They were also critical of the board for discussing such a drastic measure without notifying anyone.
“This will not be a better move for Running Fox students,” board member Carmen Arnold said. “This will affect their education. If we discussed closing Black Hawk, and having those students travel to Running Fox, where the parents would be less involved, the kids have more time on the bus and not be able to get extra help…Would you want that for your student?”
Financial concerns were the driving factor behind Schutte’s initiation of the discussion. “We will be in a situation where we face a crisis situation in a few years.”
One parent called that statement a scare tactic, and said that Kahoka voters would then be okay with closing Running Fox if it meant they would not have a tax increase.
“We’re going to ask for a levy increase regardless,” Schutte said.
Several board members felt they were unprepared to discuss the issue.
“I felt kind of blindsided by this,” said Kristy Lovell. Mark Plenge found out about the proposed discussion Thursday morning. Brad Sprague said it should have first been discussed in a brainstorming session.
“If you want to blame someone, blame me,” said Schutte. “Somebody had to start this discussion. I started it.”
The board took no action on the issue, and will likely discuss it at future meetings.
The rest of the school board meeting is reported in a different story. Be sure to check it out, too. --ms
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