R-IX Board Talks Possible Elementary School Closure

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
The possibility of closing Ruth Mercer Elementary will be discussed at the January 17 meeting of the Warsaw R-IX Board of Education.  According to Warsaw Superintendent Shawn Poyser, because of declining enrollment, the Warsaw district is faced with the decision of how to save the district money.
“We are down more than 200 students in the last decade,” said Poyser. “This is lost revenue of more than $1.2 million.”
“We are likely the only school in Missouri that has three elementary schools with a K-12 enrollment of 1,150,” said Poyser. “I do not know of any school our size  that  even has two elementary schools.”
According to Poyser, closing RME would save the district approximately $300,000 per year.  Possible plans include moving kindergarten to North Elementary and moving the pre-school program as well as Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) to South Elementary. The R-9 District is the county provider for the ECSE program which means ECSE students from Lincoln and Cole Camp will also be transported to South Elementary.
“We would send approximately 70 kids to South and 53 to North,” said Poyser.  “We have the room.  South kids are down more than 100 in the last decade.”
“I only know of two elementary schools in southwest Missouri who have elementary schools (our size) more than a mile from their middle school/high school campus,” said Poyser.  “Looking back, the district could have done things differently to keep all the students on one campus.”
Warsaw R-9 acquired the old R-10 building in 1991 when the R-10 district closed. Warsaw does not own the land on which the building stands.  If RME is closed the land, will go back to City Union Mission and the mission will take possession of the building.
Warsaw R-9 would move all educational materials from the building if the Board decides to close the school.  Federal funds were used to purchase some equipment, which in turn, would legally remain with the district.
RME was remodeled in 2006 at which time a gym and several classrooms were added.  There are presently 129 students at RME.
A hearing on the closing of Ruth Mercer Elementary will be held at 5:45 PM on January 17 in the Board Room at the Warsaw High School campus.  This hearing and the Board of Education meeting at 6 PM are open to the public.