WH school district, Redfield patrons to review school closing issue

WHITE HALL – The White Hall School Board and a task force opposed to closure of the Redfield Middle School agreed Tuesday to meet in an effort to resolve the fate of the school constructed in 1930.

Redfield Mayor Tony Lawhon told the school board that task force members are looking at a number of options, including a sales tax, in an effort to save the school.

Tuesday’s meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd from Redfield backing statements made by Lawhon and Amanda Kight, a task force member.

Both sides agreed that Superintendent Larry Smith will set a date for a meeting in late December or early January.

The issue was raised by the board Sept. 25 during a three-hour planning session. No votes were taken on any issues during the meeting or any board meeting since.

“It’s not just a school building at stake,” Lawhon told the school board, noting the middle school and Hardin Elementary School are vital elements of the Redfield community.

A one-cent sales tax would generate about $150,000 annually to help keep the school open, the mayor said, adding Redfield residents are looking at a number of available options.

Kight questioned some of the financial data presented to the board at the planning meeting. Her three-page analysis challenged data the board considered in September.

Smith provided the board with an updated analysis of district enrollment and potential additional expenses that may be incurred as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, pension costs for district employees and potential federal education aid cuts.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday encouraging Congress to take steps to avoid across-the-board budget cuts that could become effective Jan. 2 without an amendment to the Budget Control Act of 2011.