By Craig Day, The News On 6
MUSKOGEE COUNTY -- State funding cuts have forced an Oklahoma school district to shut down its high school.
Boynton-Motol Schools limped its way through the school year last year and stayed open with the help of fundraisers and grants. This year the superintendent says it's an impossible challenge.
"It's very sad. It's a loss of seeing students you really enjoy having at school going to another school," said Shelbie Williams, Boynton-Moton Superintendent.
Superintendent Shelbie Williams says the district had enough money to begin the school year. But the latest projection from the state shows $200,000 less in funding. That's not enough to keep the high school open.
"The funding cuts are just too great," Williams said. "They're just too great."
Boynton-Moton will keep its Pre-K through 8th grade open, but 17 high school students have had to transfer to other area schools. Williams says when state money got tight, the district tightened its belt.
"Watched any extra expenses of any kind, down to the dollar," she said.
But it couldn't cut anymore, let alone hire two additional teachers needed to remain accredited.
"We would need to hire an English teacher and Science teacher and we just couldn't commit to that because we don't have the money," Williams said.
It's not just an issue for the Boynton-Moton school district. If the state education budget picture doesn't improve, educators fear small districts across Oklahoma may face the same painful decision.
So now, there will be no more trophies added to the high school trophy case. The Class B state champion girls basketball team won't get a chance to defend their title and the halls will remain empty.
It's a fate that could be shared in other small districts across the state.
"Should be some kind of wake up call that some small schools may be closing," Williams said.
None of the high school teachers will lose their jobs. Two will move to the junior high and a Physical Education teacher will continue teaching students in the lower grades.