Ralston Community Frustrated After Board Votes To Close School
RALSTON, Oklahoma - In a unanimous decision, The Woodland Public School Board voted to close Woodland middle school in Ralston at the end of the school year.
"It took about four minutes for them to close our school. They opened it up. Had the pledge of allegiance. Had the prayer. Voted. Done," said Ralston resident Cindy Green.
For nearly three decades, three schools have connected the Fairfax and Ralston communities. The two towns voted to consolidate their schools 28 years ago to benefit both communities. They put the elementary and high school in Fairfax and the middle school in Ralston.
"When it was agreed upon they would do everything in their power to keep both schools open. And if you are doing everything within your power why is there two in one city and zero in one," said Gilbert Kennedy of Ralston.
School Board President Tom Engle says this wasn't an easy decision. He says the board voted to close the middle school due to safety concerns for students, lack of money, cell phone signal and water supply and building security.
The plan is to move all of the students to Fairfax, but that isn't sitting well with members of the Ralston community.
"We'd really like to go to a community vote where the community can decide what's going to happen because we go talk to Fairfax citizens and they want it to stay open," said Kennedy.
Cindy Green owns the only cafe in town and she says this decision takes more than just a school away.
"We are in a small town. It's very small. And I need the people from Fairfax to help out and spend money here to keep all these people working," said Green.
Residents say closing the school gives people no reason to come here anymore and will create a divide.
"This school, once they close it, they are going to lose everything. They aren't going to have to come here for anything. They are going to be eating in Fairfax, doing the school and sporting events in Fairfax. It's going to tremendously impact this community," said Kennedy.
The school superintendent was not available for comment.