Last week the Perry County school board dealt the most devastating blow that some students may have had to face so far in their short lives when the vote came down 3-1 to close Big Creek Elementary School.
The nearly half century old school had been seeing lower enrollment numbers in the last few years, and this coupled with recent flood damage caused the board to decide it made more sense to close the school than pay to have the around 130 students come back next year. However sad it may be, I have to agree with the board’s decision.
Many parents, students, and community members have argued that closing the school is the worst idea the board has made in a while. Signs have even been hung on the fence surrounding the school showing support for staff and the school and resentment toward the board. Some parents have even said they will be putting their children into another school district come August.
I think these reactions — or I hope anyway — are just knee-jerk reactions to what I think should be viewed as a fiscally responsible decision by a board that may not have been so fiscally responsible in years past.
There was already a plan in place for the next four years for the district to close Big Creek, A.B. Combs, and Willard Elementary, all schools in desperate need of upgrades, to create a consolidated school, so we knew this was going to happen sooner rather than later. It’s just that something came along and broke that camel’s back before anyone was ready.
This should be viewed as a step in the right direction, the first step to something that ultimately will be good for students and the district, albeit sad and a little scary for those changing schools.
The only negative I can see coming out of this is the positions that might be lost once contracts for the year run out. However, I still think the board made the right decision in closing the school.
With the opening on the new East Perry Elementary on the horizon and the district as a whole on the mend in terms of academic standards, eventually this difficult decision will be viewed as one that was ultimately best for the district.