Newton school’s future undecided

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – A school’s future is up in the air as Newton school board members consider raising new money for the district through a bond issue.

The board is considering the bond issue in order to raise funds for the Walton Rural Life Center which has outgrown its current space. But, some are asking if the school will stay in the district’s long-term plan.

Some residents in the district wonder if the school is going to receive additional funding, or whether it’s on the chopping block.

A tour of the Rural Life Center shows some kids are outside their classroom because part of the math class can include the weight and cost of feed for animals.

“The animals kind of give a sense of responsibility, just a real world application to curriculum,” said Teacher Angela Black.

Black says she, along with the kids and parents, are urging school board members to keep the school open. Some wonder if the board could consider closing the school because there are some big financial decisions coming up.

“It depends on what the board decides to do and what the community will support,” said Deborah Hamm, the superintendent of the school district.

Hamm says a long-range plan has identified two big needs: The high school needs renovations and repairs of at least $35 million, and the Rural Life Center needs a new building. That could cost $15-20 million.

However, if taxpayers don’t go for a bond issue to raise some funds, teachers and parents at the hands-on school wonder what comes next.

“They are elected officials, I want them to make the best decision that what they feel like is best for students, ultimately,” said Black.”T there’s lots of opinions but I want them to think about what’s best for students.”

So far, no board members have given any indication the school should close. But, supporters came to the Monday night meeting to raise their voices in order to make sure that doesn’t become an option.