Central View Elementary closing
By Bobby Lee McCulley | April 13, 2018 6:22 am
Leaders with the White County School system recently held discussions and reviewed a proposal that would call for the closure of one rural elementary school but would bring considerable savings to the school system and place a school resource officer at each school in White County.
In light of recent school shootings across the country, government officials and school systems have held discussions on the need to increase the security of schools and the safety of students. This reality was the center of discussion during the White County Board of Education meeting held April 12.
Gov. Bill Haslam recently appointed a School Safety Working Group. This committee, which included State Senator Paul Bailey, of Sparta, provided the governor with recommendations to enhance the security of school children across the state.
Haslam announced in late March a proposal to invest $30 million to improve school safety across the state in response to the findings and recommendations given by the School Safety Working Group.
One of the main recommendations given by the School Safety Working Group called for placing a trained and armed person in each school. This state recommendation was discussed during a proposal presented by Kurt Dronebarger, director of White County schools, to the school board last week.
“What I want to see the school system do is to put SROs (school resource officers) in each one of our schools. Stated Dronebarger. “It’s still not a fail-safe but from the governor’s work group itself – the best thing we can do is put a armed and trained person in our schools.”
Dronebarger discussed to the school board that in order to train and pay the SROs needed and to place one in each of the elementary schools, it would initially cost approximately $180,000. The following years would reportedly cost less as the cost of the initial training and certification wouldn’t be necessary each year.
“So how do we get there?” asked Dronebarger. “This is where it gets painful… This conversation has come up many times over the past several years… As we witness enrollment at Central View (Elementary School) decline, it is a very real conversation I think we need to have for the big picture of our school system.
“It’s a great school (Central View) and I first want to be on record saying there’s no part of my heart that wants to close Central View,” added Dronebarger. “But as I look at this with my mind and look at the fiscal numbers and look at the opportunities we have as a county to move forward – it makes a lot of sense to at least consider that. So that’s why I’m presenting it to the board.”
Dronebarger stated in his proposal to the school board that a feasibility study was conducted for Central View Elementary School. Over the years, student population for the school has statically declined as there are now only 72 students attending Central View. Kindergarten registration for next school year only saw approximately 9 students register.
The cost savings for closing Central View will be approximately $1.2 million, and, according to Dronebarger, none of the faculty and staff members will lose their employment, as there will be room within the school system next year. It was also proposed that Central View students would be rezoned, with 40 students going to Cassville, 15 to Doyle, and 15 to Woodland Park elementary schools.
Dronebarger stated that students rezoned wouldn’t be farther than 10 miles from their zoned elementary school.
With this proposed closure of Central View, the school system then could fiscally fund an armed and trained school resource officer for each elementary school and fund an additional SRO for the high school, which has a split campus, while the school system could also save approximately $1 million from the proposed closing as well.
Dronebarger stated that there weren’t any specific proposed plans for the Central View school building, but the school system would need to continue to maintain it until a plan is developed. It was suggested that the building could become a community center.
Dronebarger informed the board that he already spoke with the faculty and staff about the proposal and that they would be given priority in their transfer requests. A town hall forum will be held at 6 p.m., April 26, 2018, at Central View Elementary School, for parents and community members that will focus on the proposed plans.