USD 475 considers eliminating two schools from district

Local

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNT) – The Junction City School District is facing the possibility of a major switch-up in what schools students may go to in the fall, but it’s not for social distancing.

As the school year approaches, USD 475 is looking at more than just how to protect students from coronavirus. They’re actually considering whether or not to close one of two elementary schools: Franklin or Grandview.

One local woman, Krystle Koch, is using herself as the scapegoat in hopes that she turns people’s concerns into action in order to create a more connected community. And in any community, nostalgia is part of the charm. But Koch is not a Junction City native. As a concerned military wife at Fort Riley, she wants her community to feel like they are in a transparent discussion.

The buildings are around 70 years old, according to a district representative.

“Many people in our community, they’ll attend an elementary school, and then, their children will attend an elementary school. It is an emotional connection,” Sacha Dent with USD 475 said.

However, the district said it needs to be fiscally responsible and that the two schools are underutilized.

Meanwhile, Koch is concerned about the almost 250 kids who will be redistributed to other schools in the district during the pandemic.

“We’ve just told our kids to stay away from kids, now we’re going to put them in these close quarters,” Koch said.

Over 50% of students were connected to the Fort Riley base last school year. But the school district did not qualify for Impact Aid, which helps offset the lack of tax collected from those who live on the base.

“There are two main reasons we didn’t qualify. We spent more money per student than the average school district [in Kansas],” Dent said. “The other reason is that we have to maintain our mill levy at 95% of the state average. We are well below that.” 

Dent told KSNT News the school board has been considering other options to help fund new projects and cut expenditures at their internal meetings with school principals.

Public hearings are set for July 13 and 14.

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