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Thu May 15, 2014
Graves County Schools Plans to Set Auction Date to Sell Cuba Elementary Tonight
The Graves County Board of Education plans to set an auction date for Cuba Elementary school at its regularly scheduled meeting tonight despite an ongoing lawsuit to keep the school open.
The board voted in December to close the school and later voted to sell the surplus property.
Graves County Schools spokesman Paul Schaumburg said the board cited low enrollment, and the high cost of maintaining the facility for its closure.
The school's Chief Financial Officer valued the property at $62,000 which Schaumburg said the school plans to receive.
An executive session will be held prior to tonight's meeting concerning litigation.
Last month, a group of residents sued the board of education because, they say, the board failed to follow proper procedure to close the school. The complaint alleges that the board did not follow proper measures when changing Cuba’s status from a “permanent” to “transitional” school, making it eligible to closure for fiscal reasons.
Josh Cherry, one of the plaintiffs in the suit and parent of a Cuba student, said the board has been less than transparent with their motivations to close the school.
“They tried to get the school tax increase back in November of last year, it did not pass and it was just a few weeks later that they decided to close the school," said Cherry. "It was almost like a slap in the face. So as far as they’re saying that the enrollment of kids is the reasoning behind closing it, I just don’t believe it. I think they are other reasons behind it. If they do close it then we’ll find out what those reasons are because I think they just want to spend the money somewhere else.”
The proposed tax hike would have added funding to the school system to go towards facility repairs but was voted down on a county ballot.
Cherry said closure of the school would mean mixing students into much larger schools further away, putting strain on the kids and parents.
"Right now I live four miles from Cuba, and Wingo and Sedalia are about 14 or 15 miles away, but there are some people who live even further than that," said Cherry. "So that means longer bus rides, morning and afternoons as well as splitting up groups of friends that have been together for several years. I just don't see any of this being good for the students."
Last month, Cuba Elementary was recognized as Kentucky's category 2 school for the National Title I Association for significantly closing the achievement gap between student groups.
"Cuba ranks pretty high in the state in terms of test scores and everything," said Cherry. "So if it's really about education, they're closing down the top school in the county."
Cherry said the group's efforts to keep the school open have received a large amount of support throughout the community and have held several fundraising events to pay for legal fees.
Cherry said both parties will meet for the first time in Franklin Circuit court on June 11th where the judge will determine whether to go forward with the case.
When the school closes June 30th, the 155 students, will be integrated into Wingo and Sedalia schools.
Also on the agenda, the Graves County Board will also consider approval for a non-federal contribution to the district's Nutrition Services Department, the extra service day salary schedule, a certified employee evaluation plan, a fuel bid, a tentavie budget and the auditor for fiscal year 2014-2015.