Lost City School Needs Funds To Stay Open

Wednesday, February 6th 2008, 7:36 pm
By: News On 6

A small Green Country community refuses to shut down its school. Residents of Lost City in Cherokee County voted against having their financially-strapped school annexed. The News on 6's Chris Wright reports the vote was not even close.

Residents, by a three to one margin, are against annexation by nearby Hulbert. But, now the district needs to come up with the cash to make sure the school stays open.

The kids were all smiles during lunchtime at Lost City School on Wednesday. They may not understand the implications of Tuesday night's vote, but Superintendent Monty Montgomery does. It means at least another six or seven weeks of lunches together in the cafeteria.

"We don't want to take the school away, we really don't. The community spoke last night, three to one, we want to keep it. We're going to move forward and we're going to grow," said Lost City Superintendent Dr. Monty Montgomery.

That doesn't mean the rural school with 103 students is out of the woods yet. The district said it is down to its last $88,000, which will last until mid-March. But, Lost City needs an additional $200,000 to $250,000 to stay open until the end of the school year. That's where the Keetoowah tribe comes in.

"When you lose your school, you lose your community; of course, this is always going to be Lost City. But, people relate to their school," said Chief George Wickliffe with the Keetoowah tribe.

The tribe has not said how much money it will contribute to Lost City's budget. But, Superintendent Montgomery appreciates the pledge and said any grant will help. Montgomery said the school is Lost City's soul, and these kids deserve to stay together.

"You walk into our cafeteria, kids are happy. The kids are happy, big smiles on their face. One thing they say, they love our school," said Superintendent Montgomery.

Montgomery said the previous superintendent is responsible for the district's financial problems. He said she misused school funds. Lost City is also hoping for financial help from the Cherokee Nation. The tribe said it has already helped with staffing issues and is now considering contributing more money.

The Cherokees also said the school will be receiving a check from its tribal tag revenue in the next few weeks.