Board continues campus viability discussion

At 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, the Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met in regular session in the Wetmore Academic Center gym to continue discussing Wetmore campus viability. Board members present in-person were Leslie Scoby, Stan Keim, Anissa Bloom, Phillip Buessing and Jim Scoby. Kathy Lippert was present via phone and Kent Saylor was absent.

Public Discussion

Andrea Lagos presented a slideshow to the board members and went over information she had gathered about Wetmore’s viability. She let the board know that, by her calculations, 129 students are projected to enroll at Wetmore for 2024. Lagos explained that Wetmore has lost 10 students, but has gained five students and eight are “in the pipeline” – eight students are planning to attend Wetmore through a recruitment strategy that the Wetmore community has created to bring up their enrollment, since that is mostly what the board as a whole is concerned about.

Lagos said Wetmore is viable according to the board’s viability metrics and is projected to continue being viable. She also believes that the board is using the viability metrics as a weapon to “destroy the Wetmore community” because “the board can do whatever it wants.” Lagos also said that when the board constantly brings up the closure of Wetmore, it hurts Wetmore’s community and enrollment suffers.

Andy Henry spoke before the board, saying the Wetmore community has spent many hours reviewing and presenting verified information to the board members. He said the community would like to hear back on the questions they sent to the board. He wanted the board to think about the Wetmore teachers, staff and students’ education when the board makes their decision.

Analyssa Noe presented a slideshow and brought up some questions addressed to the board. She also provided the board members with informational packets. Noe said the board has not come up with valid reasons so far to close Wetmore.

Ryan Kriegshauser, an attorney from Olathe representing a number of concerned Wetmore parents, came before the board asking for 15 open requests for the community to understand why school closure makes sense, based on board policies. He also said school closure will have a real impact on the students and community members. He believes there are other options to solve the situation besides school closure, such as transferring Wetmore to another school district, for example.

Matt Deters spoke to the board members, stating that the Wetmore students are equating the closing of their school to a family members passing away. He said school closure has been constantly on the students’ minds for a long time. Deters also said there is no financial danger in keeping Wetmore open a bit longer, so Wetmore students should be given more time to spend in their school.

Board Discussion

Before discussion could begin, L. Scoby let the board know that, per recommendation by the board attorney Martin Mishler, two questions asked by the Wetmore community cannot be answered by the board during public discussion due to attorney-client privileges.

Buessing questioned something he noticed in the board’s viability policy and asked which policies the board has to follow and which policies are just guidelines that the board does not have to follow. Lippert told Buessing that this question is something to ask attorney Mishler. Bloom has asked Mishler that question and received correspondence, but she was told that the board would need to discuss that in executive session, which the board did not go into.

During board discussion, much was said from all board members present about the topic of closing Wetmore and its campus viability. Superintendent Todd Evans explained his role in the viability process first before stating his opinions on the matter. He said the information presented by the Wetmore community was accurate, but them “making assertions about subsidization was not accurate” in Evans’ opinion. Bloom asked Evans what he meant by that and why he seems to prefer the 2016 viability formula over the 2019 formula.

Bloom also asked the board if they are really ready to make the big decision to close Wetmore when there is still so much discussion that needs to be done before making a decision. She also presented a slideshow and went over some of the questions that were asked by the Wetmore community. She also brought up bringing in a third party to look over every bit of information that has been gathered in order to hear what is the best course of action from an outside source.

Keim made a comment about the board needing to look to the past at Wetmore’s decline in enrollment. He asked Evans if it’s true to say that “money follows enrollment,” and Evans said it is true. Keim also said he found it bothering that Sabetha students are spent “way less on” compared to Wetmore and Axtell students.

J. Scoby read aloud a statement he had written. He also said he spoke to some people in Wetmore who said Jackson Heights would be interested in absorbing Wetmore into their district in order to keep Wetmore open. J. Scoby said he would be very interested to hear from the Jackson Heights school board to see if that is true, and he welcomed the option of transferring Wetmore to Jackson Heights, because he does not want to see Wetmore closed like Bern was.

After further discussion on campus viability, Superintendent Evans did agree that USD 113 would be okay if Wetmore stayed open for a year or two. Buessing then asked why the board is pushing school closure when Wetmore is still financially viable; he didn’t understand the pushing when Wetmore is not financially in trouble. Lippert thought it was unfounded to say that the board is rushing to close Wetmore.

J. Scoby brought up again the possibility of Jackson Heights being interested in absorbing Wetmore to keep the school open according to some Wetmore people he spoke to. Bloom asked, if a special meeting were to be held for the board to talk to Jackson Heights, that the meeting be a public hearing. L. Scoby didn’t think there would be precedent for that.

Buessing asked the board if some of the board members actually want to close Wetmore because that is what it sounded like to him. L. Scoby said the board does not actually want see Wetmore closed. Buessing also made a comment about abandoning students if Wetmore is closed. Keim and L. Scoby did not believe any students would be abandoned.

After a bit more discussion, it was decided that board president L. Scoby would talk to Jackson Heights the following day to see if they really are interested in accepting Wetmore into their district, and if they are, then the board members would have to schedule a special meeting to talk to the Jackson Heights school board.

To watch the whole meeting, visit

The board is still planning to hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Wetmore Academic Center gym to consider a proposal to close Wetmore.

Erin Herrmann71 Posts

Erin Herrmann is one of two co-editors at The Sabetha Herald. She specializes in school board reporting, features and advertising design. Erin lives in Sabetha.


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