School struggles in Swedeborg, Waynesville raise concerns
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 12, 2010) — County commissions don’t usually get involved in school matters, but at Monday morning’s meeting, both the eastern and western district commissioners said school issues have become major concerns for their constituents.
A recent vote in the Swedeborg R-III School District against approving a tax increase which school officials say is necessary to prevent closing the district has caused major problems, according to Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink, whose mother and father live in the Swedeborg district.
“It’s got the while little town in an uproar,” Zweerink said. “I think the big issue is they’re asking for $3.43 or something. What she was irate about was it costs $2,000 less per student to send to Crocker than it does to Richland. The other thing is Crocker sent the school bus down and they made them take them to Richland rather than Crocker. I don’t know if that was true or not … I try not to get into all that.”
The relevance of the Crocker and Richland districts is that Swedeborg doesn’t have a high school; its students graduate after eighth grade and the district must then pay tuition for its students to enroll in a district that does have a high school.
While Swedeborg is the county’s smallest district with about 50 students in its K-8 building and has been struggling for years to maintain its enrollment, the county’s largest district has the opposite problem. In Waynesville, the two off-post elementary schools, Freedom Elementary in St. Robert and East Elementary in Waynesville, have thousands of students and are overcrowded, while several elementary school buildings on post have small class sizes because more and more soldiers are choosing to live off Fort Leonard Wood rather than inside the gates.
“We’ve got parents out here who don’t want their children going out to Fort Leonard Wood,” said Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham. “If another 911 happens we have some parents who have no connection to Fort Leonard Wood and they can’t get on post if they lock it down.”
“They’re all for the military and all that, but they’ve got some legitimate grievances that if they lock it down they won’t be able to get to their children,” Farnham said.
In other business, County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer said she had to submit federal stimulus grant forms and got two of the three submitted on Friday, but the third form could not be submitted because the system was down for maintenance until 5 p.m. Eastern time. That’s 4 p.m. in the Central time zone which includes Missouri.
“I logged on at 4:05 p.m. Central time and saw a message that the deadline had been extended,” Linnenbringer said. “There’s the federal government for you.”