Voters To Decide White Oak High's Future

Monday, March 2nd 2009, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

VINITA, OK -- A drop in state funding is leading to a very tough decision for voters in the White Oak School District, just outside Vinita.

Students K-12 have walked the halls for eight decades in the same building since 1943.

"Students aren't just a number, they're a face and everybody knows everybody in the community," said Mark Allgood, White Oak Superintendent.

But this year's senior class, may be the last to graduate from the district. Voters will hit the polls Tuesday to decide whether to do away with grades nine-12.

"We might run the risk of losing the whole school if we don't go ahead and go to a K-8," said Allgood.

Enrollment has dropped from 197 students a couple of years ago to 125 today.

That means a projected drop of $200,000 in state education dollars for next year.

After salaries, the superintendent says there wouldn't be enough left over in the budget for other expenses.

"I figured out we'd only have $80,000 of operational expenses considering the fact that last year, we probably spent pretty close to that just in propane costs and diesel costs," said Allgood.

"It's a terrible situation for the school district to be in. If voters say ‘yes,' they close the high school, which has been around since the 1920's. If they say ‘no,' the district has to find funding somewhere to make up for that $200,000 shortfall in state funding," said Allgood. "That could mean layoffs of teachers and other personnel. Many school districts all across the state are in the same situation."

Superintendent Mark Allgood says while the choice is tough, many districts, including White Oak, will be forced to cut some grades in order to save others.

"It's my belief that if a school loses its community, the community goes likewise and I want to keep this community and school going as much as possible in whatever format as we can," said Allgood.

If approved by voters, the high school would be dropped after the current school year.

Most of those students from White Oak would likely go to high school in nearby Vinita or in Chelsea.