Parents fight to keep Elementary school open - KOTA Territory News

Parents fight to keep Elementary school open


Budget cuts are nothing new for school districts across KOTA territory.

But one rural school finds itself on the chopping block because of those cuts for a second year in a row.

Three rooms, and 11 happy students. That's how 6th grader Dakota Strudwick describes Fairburn Elementary school.

"I like coming here because I just like feel at home here," said Strudwick.

"If students are gazing out the window, the teacher notices. They don't see a pool of faces or a stack of papers to grade. There's two teachers for 11 children, I don't think the odds could get better than that," said Heather Payden-Williams, mother of two Fairburn Elementary students.

Now, parents are ready to fight to keep their elementary school open.

"The money they propose they'll save, the $72,000... there's more value in keeping the school open than there is in those savings," said Moritz Espy, father of one Fairburn Elementary student.  

"All parents refused to claim any gas mileage which took the school budget down by about 16% right then and there," said Payden-Williams.

Our multiple attempts to speak with district superintendents, and school board members went un-answered Friday. But parents say, if budget cuts are in order, other areas should be considered.

"It costs as much money to bus the [district] sports teams and pay for their school and lodging as it does to run Fairburn school. That's not something to be funded at the expense of elementary school children," said Payden-Williams. 

Parents may have to drive further if the school closes, but a closure would be hardest on the students.

"I would feel like I wasn't a human being anymore. I'd feel empty, like a part of me had gone somewhere else because I've been so close to the school that I don't want it to close down," said Strudwick.

"I'd feel abandoned. I'd meet new people and my friends would go to different schools," said Tori Madsen, a 5th grade student.

"I think people in small communities are finding they have to take proactive approach to keeping their towns together because when the budget cuts start happening, its always the rural areas that go first," said Payden-Williams.

The closest school outside the community would be roughly 12 miles away in Hermosa.

The Custer county school board could meet and vote on this issue as soon as the second week of November.

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