Closing McKinney won’t save money

Published 10:41 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

Our school district is going through a painful time. Between state funding cuts, lower student enrollment and local taxes that aren’t at a level to support a school system, we’re told there just isn’t enough money to go around. The school board was tasked with finding $300,000 to remove from the budget for the upcoming year. At some point, closing McKinney Elementary School was brought up yet again as a possible solution.

Voting on such a proposal on May 9 without a board member to represent McKinney’s section of the district is certainly unethical. But, after decades as the whipping boy for the county, McKinney School supporters aren’t surprised. The problem with assumptions about cost cutting related to closing the school is simple; they’re incorrect. Aside from the operating costs of the school building itself (a tiny portion of the overall cost) there will be virtually no cost reduction in the district budget. All teaching positions will move to another school in the district, even the Principal. Also, the school building will still have debts owed against it, which can’t be paid off at the present time.

Although possibly unrelated, at the same time the district is trying to cut costs, our Superintendent has just received a 15.9% pay raise and a new 4-year contract. His compensation has been raised from $110,000 per year to $127,500 per year. Over half a million dollars through the contract. In a county where median household income is $38,000 and over 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line, this seems a large sum. That $17,500 could surely have been used to buy school supplies that our teachers are currently buying themselves, after not receiving a raise in 13 years district wide.

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There are myriad issues with our local school district’s operation and funding. We must find the solutions to ensure a viable future for our children. Closing the third-highest performing elementary school in the district isn’t going to solve any of these problems. It will serve the interests of a few, and sow division and resentment among many.

Ethan Jones