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Sikeston school board votes to close Morehouse school
SIKESTON, Mo. -- Morehouse Elementary students will be housed at a different building when the new school year begins in August.
In a 5-1 vote, Sikeston School Board members decided during a special meeting Wednesday to close the Morehouse Elementary School building in an effort to save the district money.
School board president Scott Crumpecker was the only member to vote against the measure.
"It's particularly hard for me because I am from Morehouse," Crumpecker said before the roll-call vote. "My family's been in Morehouse a long time. We've had a rich history there."
Crumpecker said his grandfather was part of the first school consolidation in 1920, and his father was on the school board in 1968 when Morehouse voters decided to annex its school district to the Sikeston R-6 School District.
"He opposed the consolidation with Sikeston public schools, and it was because of the community element. It was because he felt like if we lost the school in Morehouse, we would lose the town -- and that's how I feel tonight," Crumpecker said.
The closing comes as many in Morehouse are still trying to recover from devastating spring flooding that damaged many of the homes in the city.
Voting in favor to close the school were board members Jill Hopson, Mary White-Ross, Deke Lape and Toni Kellett and board vice president Amy Blanton. The board's seventh member, Mike Marsh, was not in attendance due to work obligations.
Law doesn't allow Marsh to vote by proxy, but Marsh submitted a letter read by Lape prior to the board's vote. In the letter, Marsh said: "We all understand the importance to the community of this school. ... Without malice, I support the decision of the board."
Sikeston Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said also before the board's vote on Wednesday the recommendation he gave during the April 18 special meeting to close Morehouse Elementary due to financial and academic reasons had not changed.
With the school's closing, the majority of Morehouse students would transfer to Lee Hunter Elementary because it has the most classrooms and is the biggest building, the superintendent said.
Blanton and Hopson also spoke before the board's roll call vote.
Blanton expressed her gratitude for the phone calls, letters and conversations she's had with others about the issue over the last several weeks. She noted of those she communicated with, about half were in support of keeping Morehouse open while the other half was in support of closing the school.
"This decision is not an easy one for me to make," Blanton said. "My own family will be personally impacted by it. Two of my four children will experience the changes that will be made at Lee Hunter if Morehouse does close."
Blanton said she understands the passion Morehouse students, parents and faculty have for their school because it's the same passion she and her children have for Lee Hunter and also the same she has for Matthews Elementary, where she attended school.
"I do want to point out, though, that as wonderful as the Morehouse staff is -- and I truly believe they are a wonderful staff -- it is not the only school that is blessed with compassionate and talented teachers. Our district is rich of teachers who are passionate about children's education as well as their personal well being. These teachers are in every building in our district," Blanton said.
Blanton said it would be easy for her to vote so she and her children wouldn't experience change in Lee Hunter's operation, but as a board member, she believes the best decision for the district is to close Morehouse.
Blanton noted no one will lose their job by closing Morehouse Elementary, and although they will be in different buildings, the "talented and wonderful employees" will continue to be a part of students' lives.
"I hate the impact that this will have on the Morehouse community -- a community that has been hurt so much already. If this decision is not made, other cuts that will be detrimental to our district's quality of education will have to be made," Blanton said.
The board's official vote was to close Morehouse Elementary as soon as possible in order for the students and teachers to relocate within the district for the 2011-2012 school year.