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USD 112 patrons vocal about consolidation options
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HOLYROOD — If the 212 patrons gathered in the Central Plains Elementary School gym Monday for the monthly meeting of the Central Plains USD 112 board of education expected the board to act on possible cuts to the 2019-20 school year, they were disappointed.

Instead, after a 50-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel, the board directed administrators to continue looking at personnel.

‘The board has for months been looking at ways to make budget cuts,” said Michelle Brokes, board president. “This is an ongoing discussion. As we’ve said there were four options that were a starting point for making some of this happen. After a lot of feedback from the public, which we take very seriously, we are continuing to look at our best options going forth.”

Brokes said the four options originally released to the public are not set in stone.

“I don’t want there to be confusion that within a two-sentence option we feel like we can address all of the district’s needs,” she said. Obviously, that is not the case.”

Patrons from both ends of the district voiced their thoughts during the public forum portion of the meeting.

“We understand the fear of change,” said Dan Wimmer, a graduate of Quivira Heights High School. “I don’t know that any of these options make sense. It’s too early to just throw these four options in there and make it work. I don’t think the numbers are correct. I think there is a lot of work that needs to be put into all of these numbers. The numbers have changed, the options have changed.”

Wimmer said it’s important for USD 112 patrons to be unified.

Debbie Gould, social studies teacher at Wilson School, said she gave students in grades 6-11 a survey asking them what they would do if they had to transfer next year to Central Plains High School in Claflin as part of the much discussed Option 3 — which would among other things bus seventh through twelfth grade students from Wilson to Claflin.

“According to the survey, 94 percent would not,” Gould said. “We weren’t expecting this number to be this high. I think we guessed it to be about 70 percent. We were pretty shocked by that statistic and also saddened at the same time.”

Only four students said they would be willing to go to CPHS.

Another question asked of the students was if they didn’t attend Claflin where would they go?

“Our students split up,” Gould said. “A third said they would go to Ellsworth, a third might go to Russell and a third might go to Sylvan-Lucas.”

A similar survey given to staff at Wilson School also produced depressing results, Gould said.

About 60 percent said they would not be willing to work at another location in the district if Option 3 were chosen by the board.

“We thought before the board made their decision, it was important to know that data,” Gould said.

“Wilson, I understand you are afraid,” said Joanie Zink of Bushton. “You are afraid of your loss of identity. You’re Wilson Dragons. Well, we’ve been through it ourselves here on the south end. We were Bushton Trojans, Holyrood Cardinals, Geneseo Dragons and Claflin, they lost their Wildcats. We’ve all had to give up some things that were tough. And that is some of the things that are pulling at your heart strings.”

When Quivira Heights and Claflin merged, Zink said she thought the students in those schools wouldn’t come together. 

“But they did,” she said. “Yeah, maybe it was a tough couple of years, but they did.”

Zink said it’s all about the heart of the kids.

“I think you will see that joining our high schools together will just strengthen our high schools,” she said. “It’s not going to tear us apart if they would just give it a chance.”

In other business:

• The USD 112 Hall of Fame presentations will take place Feb. 8 during home basketball games at both Wilson School and Central Plains High School.

• The resignations of science teacher Bryant Davis and sixth grade teacher Kathy Powers at Wilson School were approved.

• The hiring of Alan Betz as a bus aide at Wilson School was approved as Greg Garner, a custodian-housekeeper at Central Plains Middle School in Bushton.

The next meeting of the Central Plains USD 112 board of education will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at Wilson School.