WETMORE (KSNT) – USD 113 Prairie Hills has decided to close the Wetmore Academic Center at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
Superintendent Todd Evans released a statement regarding the decision made at the district’s Board of Education meeting Monday night. He said this has been a long, on-going conversation about the viability of Wetmore Academic Center. There was previously a public hearing with local families and community members exploring these factors. Evans said USD 113’s board ultimately finds these reasons for the closure:
- Declining enrollment at the Wetmore Academic Center
- Difficulties of distributing resources to all three campuses in a fair and equitable way
- Challenges to the community of a school closure
“We wrestled for months with the factors and competing values involved in a decision like this, and at no point did we take this decision lightly. What it ultimately came down to was responsible budget management and our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars in the years to come,” said Board of Education President Leslie Scoby.
Evans said in the media release that, “all impacted licensed and classified employees will be offered continued employment with USD 113.” Additionally, the board will not lay off any workers because of Wetmore’s closure. Retirement windows have been extended from Feb. 15 to 24, 2023.
A committee of board members and the superintendent will advise the board about transition issues and plans for the next school year.
In a statement to families on Feb. 9, Evans acknowledged a community petition presented to and approved by Nemaha County to disorganize USD 113 per Kansas Law 72-365. Evans told 27 News that this petition would not reverse the board’s decision to close Wetmore Academic Center. If 309 people sign this petition, dissolving USD 113 would be put to a vote in an election in the fall.
Evans said in the statement that he has talked to attorneys within the Kansas State Department of Education who say the law does not allow for partial disorganization.
“In the event of a successful petition, efforts will be made by the school district to educate the public about the implications of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote regarding the USD 113 disorganization question that will be on the official ballot,” Evans said.