wichita cleaveland magnet

Wichita (Kansas) district is closing 6 of its schools

March 5, 2024
Shuttering 4 elementary and 2 middle schools later this year will save about $16.2 million.

The Wichita (Kansas) school board has voted to permanently close six schools at the end of the semester.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the district, the largest in Kansas, will shutter Clark, Park, Payne and Cleaveland Magnet elementaries and Hadley and Jardine Magnet middle schools. The closures will affect 2,213 students and 322 employees. 

District officials say the consolidation will save an estimated $16.2 million — money needed to help shrink a $42 million budget gap. Board members were told in January they had to choose between closing schools and laying off teachers and other employees.

Enrollment in the Wichita district for 2023-24 is 47,174, according to its website. Full-time equivalent enrollment has declined by 8% since 2016.

“The consequences of remote learning as a result of school closures during Covid drove parents to send their students to private schools or choose to homeschool,” board member Kathy Bond said. “Now, we have too many buildings and not enough students to fill the classrooms . . . This decision cannot be delayed or pushed down the road anymore without putting this district in serious jeopardy.”

Beyond building closures, the district hopes to save $9 million through a variety of cuts, including trimming all non-school programs by at least 5% and scaling back the number of schools that participate in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness program. That leaves a $16.8 million budget hole that still needs to be filled.

Before closures can be finalized, state law requires a 45-day period for residents to lodge an administrative review with the state board of education.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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