Reading town leaders mulling city's future with school closure edging closer

With Reading Elementary going dark at the end of June, town leaders are looking for ways to soften the impact on the town of around 240 residents. With Reading Elementary going dark at the end of June, town leaders are looking for ways to soften the impact on the town of around 240 residents. Chuck Samples/KVOE News.

The closure of Reading Elementary figures to have an immediate and long-lasting impact on the community.

Mayor Todd Hensley, who moved to the area better than three decades ago so his family could enjoy the small-town school atmosphere, says this will hurt.

Reading Community Development board member Reta Jackson agrees. She says the closure's impact will extend well beyond education.

Officially, the last day of operation will be June 30, although the last school day will be May 18 and the school's final PTO Carnival is Friday evening. The school was Reading's largest supplier of utility revenue, and Hensley says that impact won't be seen until September because of the typical summer shutdown.

The future of Reading Elementary had been a concern for around two decades prior to the vote this week. There was some hope among Reading residents that the school's recovery from the 2011 tornado, which caused significant damage, would work in favor of the school remaining open, but declining enrollment and an increase in the amount of money spent per student kept Reading's future in question.

Hensley says it would great if the school building and grounds could be repurposed. Jackson mentioned a potential private school coming in, although nothing has been confirmed. The school board will be starting talks with Reading community members soon on how to proceed with the building.

Jackson says civic leaders are in the process of reaching out to different agencies to chart their course going forward. Among the groups that has offered to help is Emporia Main Street. Director Casey Woods says there are ways Reading can soften the blow.

The closure ends a lengthy education presence in Reading. The high school closed in the 1980s. It's also the second school closure for the district since 2010, when Admire Elementary ceased operations.

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Last modified on Monday, 16 April 2018 14:49

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