Wichita’s hearing on closing schools is Thursday. Here’s how you can have your say

The Wichita school board is holding a public hearing Thursday ahead of next week’s vote on whether to close four elementary schools and two middle schools at the end of the semester.

Board meetings are usually held at North High, but Thursday’s 6 p.m. hearing will instead be at the Alvin Morris Administrative Center, 903 S. Edgemoor.

To secure a three-minute speaking slot, community members are asked to call the district at 316-973-4553 by noon Thursday or to arrive early make sure their name is on the speaker sign-up list no later than 5:50 p.m.

Earlier this month the school board heard a proposal from the district leadership team calling for the closure of Clark, Park, Payne and Cleaveland Traditional Magnet elementary schools, as well as Hadley and Jardine Magnet middle schools. The board will make its decision on March 4.

The proposed closures would affect 2,213 students, 132 teachers and 190 other staff.

District officials say the move could save $16 million to be put toward plugging this year’s $42 million budget shortfall, which coincides with the exhaustion of USD 259’s federal pandemic relief funds.

If the Wichita board approves closures, residents dissatisfied with the result will have 45 days to lodge an administrative review with the state board of education. To register an administrative review, petitions must be signed by at least 5% of registered voters within district boundaries.

Here are the six Wichita schools proposed for permanent closure this year