Photo provided by the Prairie Village Post.
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[/media-credit]Westwood View parents, students and alumni can rest easy this week knowing that no immediate action is being taken on the rumored closing of the community’s elementary school.
Westwood View, established in 1928, is located in the small community of Westwood, Kansas. The population of the school has steadily declined since the 1970s. The small population, small building and the location of the school as one of East area’s northeastern most facilities has landed the elementary school on a district “cut list” for decades.
Every five years, the district releases a five-year plan, for what accomplishments and goals they would like to see for the district in those coming years. Before beginning a new plan, the district assesses facilities. The Strategic Planning Committee, made up of parents, teachers, patrons, and students, meet to discuss the schools’ progress. They comment on the schools structures, suggest improvements and address other issues with the schools. Social Studies teacher Brenda Fishman was selected as a representative from East for the Strategic Planning Committee’s 2011-2012 year.
“We look at factors such as the age of the facility, how many students are attending the school versus it’s capacity, even traffic patterns and demographics projected for population increase in an area,” Fishman said.
This committee’s job is to then take their observations and recommend the idea of any new improvements to the schools, or even a school closing. However, the recommendations and proposal are in no way an official document. This process is what often puts Westwood View at risk, due to the small nature of the school is often placed on the recommendation list for district closures.
Shawnee Mission East area board member Donna Bysfield is familiar with this issue. Westwood View feeds into East, so she has seen the name come up many times over the years. Donna ensures Westwood View patrons that this is a recurring issue, and, like in the past, no immediate action is being taken at this time.
“At this point in time we are not looking at school closures,” Bysfield said. “In no way is Westwood View even being thought of, or proposed to the superintendent.”
Bysfield said that factors such as the size and population of the building are important when a committee assesses a school.
“Every committee that looks at Westwood View says ‘hmmm, that looks small,’” Bysfield said. “It has happened many times before, but never has Westwood View’s closure been formally proposed to the board.”