School closure impacts go beyond education

The realities of the local decreasing population of school-aged children and the economic straits we are in have come home to roost with the proposed closure of Crawfordsville School.

Closing Crawfordsville would be a no-brainer if it were approached simply from a bean-counter standpoint. Based on what school district officials tell us, there is little question that the school, which has an enrollment of 70 this year, is costing the district quite a bit of money to keep open – about $180,000 is the figure Supt. Larry Horton gave at Monday’s School Board meeting.

The fact that consolidating Crawfordsville and Holley schools would save money is good news for our district, which faces more economic woes this year – roughly $2 million worth – unless something unexpectedly good happens. We need to save money and, by the way, we agree with critics that the $17,500 spent on a new chain-link fence to enclose the high school athletic field is, in these tight times, not what we want to see.

Closing Crawfordsville will mean that a small number of students may have to travel farther to get to school. Due to the way the district boundaries are drawn now, according to Horton, half the students now at Crawfordsville actually live closer to Holley. Plus, though the “feel” might be slightly different, Holley is a good school. Educational progress will likely not decline there.

Schools, though, are important for rural communities in other ways beside education, particularly in this day and age when family and community sometimes get short shrift.

Schools like Crawfordsville, with their open houses, auctions, Christmas performances and other community activities, provide a means for the community to come together.

Crawfordsville, of course, still will have a market, a post office, and a church, which recently hosted a guitar concert – at the school gym – at which some attendees commented that it had been far too long since something like that had happened in Crawfordsville. But it won’t have the school.

A look back in The New Era reveals bustling neighborhood activities years ago in Pleasant Valley, Sunnyside and Liberty, as well as Holley and Crawfordsville. They all had schools and the schools were important centers of community activity. In our day of fast travel, cellphones, computers, social media etc., the solid back-fence community relationships are declining,

That’s why we truly regret seeing Crawfordsville School close.