HAVEN, Kan. — A good crowd showed up to express its views on the proposed closing of Partridge Elementary school in the Haven USD 312 District. But in the end, it was not enough to sway the board from doing just that. On a 5-2 split vote, the board passed a resolution to close the elementary school at the end of the year due to declining enrollment.
With a subject that always brings a lot of emotion, those who spoke during the public hearing were cordial, but firm in their wishes to keep the building open. Current Partridge Principal Delon Martin suggested that the district put together a task force to try and find the necessary enrollment figures and give the committee three years to address the issue before making a decision. He also felt, as others did, that the district did not do enough to try and bring in the large number of homeschooled students in that area of the county, which numbered around 105.
During the regular board meeting, board member Kent McKinnis made a motion to make partridge a K-8 school and re-address the issue three years from now. That motion was given a second by Paul Caffery, who has been the most outspoken about closing the school. However, the vote was 5-2 against the proposal. Shortly afterward, the motion to approve the resolution to close the school passed by the same 5-2 vote.
The closing comes after two years of debate and discussion regarding the school building, which currently has 51 students. Last year, it appeared the board was ready to close the school, but a sudden change of heart kept the building open another year.
Superintendent Clark Wedel says, with the low enrollment and little promise of any improvement, it was necessary to bring the matter back to the board again this year. Wedel says closing the school will save the district about $200,000 a year.