Emporia school board votes against closing school amidst staffing crisis

Emporia school board votes against closing school amidst staffing crisis
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT
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EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Emporia Public Schools will not close one of its elementary schools to address an ongoing staffing crisis.

District officials had proposed a plan to pause operations at William Allen White Elementary and transfer the school’s staff to the positions most needed across the district.

The pause would have continued until the district returned to normal staffing numbers. The district board, however, held a special meeting this afternoon and voted unanimously against closing the school.

”How do you adjust to that,” Paige Yeager, who has two children at the school, asked. “You’re ‘Oh ok, I’m going to enroll my kids to school this week. They’re going to go to the same school they have for the last four, five, six years or however long they’ve been there’... and now they’re not.”

“This was supposed to be the first year of normalcy those kids have had since the Spring of 2020,” Board Member Jennifer Thomas said. “And now there’s the potential of us putting them through this.”

“I think we need to exhaust every alternative and use those alternatives that we have,” Board Member Art Gutierrez said. “The timing’s just bad, and it seems like the timing will always be bad and it’s never going to be good.”

The board also granted authority to the superintendent to explore all options moving forward, which could include:

  • The transfer of instructional strategists to classroom teacher positions
  • Hire qualified student teachers in December (only four are available at Emporia State University)
  • Adjust instructional strategist schedules to go into classrooms for part of the day and teach flex groups for the other part
  • Combine grade levels into multi-age classrooms
  • Staggering start times
  • Increase class sizes
  • Schedule flex groups with more students per group

To watch the full board meeting, click here.

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