Future of closed Kansas school center of dispute

(File Photo)

McCUNE, Kan. (AP) — The future of an elementary school in southeast Kansas that closed in May after a year of controversy is still the subject of debate.

The McCune elementary school, part of the Southeast School District based in Cherokee, was closed despite protests from several area residents. The district, one of Kansas’ smallest and poorest, said it was no longer financially feasible to operate the school, which had 39 students in grades one, two and four.

In April, the Southeast School Board asked the city of McCune if it could use the building. But after the school was closed, a residents’ group asked the Oswego School District if it would take over the school. The Oswego board did not act on the request, The Joplin Globe reported.

McCune city leaders passed a resolution supporting a plan to have to school transferred directly to the city, which would take full ownership of the building and its grounds, thus saving the Southeast district the cost of maintenance and insurance.

Several residents supported the plan for the city to own the building, suggesting it could be used for City Hall, the fire department or a preschool and day care.

“Our community is ready to move forward in a way that best benefits McCune and the surrounding community,” McCune Councilman Larry Dunnick said.

But Southeast School District superintendent Glenn Fortmayer said in a statement issued Thursday that legal advisers recommended a lease arrangement with the city in response to the Save McCune School Group’s earlier overture to the Oswego district. He said it would hurt the Southeast district’s finances to have another district’s school within its borders.

Fortmayer said Southeast was willing to lease the building at an “extremely affordable” long-term rate.

“The lease arrangement allows the city the use they desire, preserves the building for that use, while at the same time allows the district to retain ownership as legally advised, to protect itself from any possible petition to seize the property by another school district,” he said in the statement.


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