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Superintendent: McKenzie closure ‘only one of several options’

Rumors are flying thick and fast about a possible school closure in the county, but don’t assume anything just yet. That’s the word from Butler County School Superintendent Darren Douthitt on Wednesday.

In a telephone interview with The Greenville Advocate, Douthitt said the possibility of closing McKenzie School would be “only one of several options” during Thursday night’s scheduled BOE work session in Georgiana.  The superintendent has stated in recent months some tough decisions would have to be made with the woes of continued proration and a still- sluggish economy, with all areas being studied and considered for potential cuts.

“Obviously, we really do not want to close any schools. But our job is to keep this school district a solvent one,” Douthitt said.

“I can honestly say it hurts me to think about doing that to a school.  Ultimately, it’s about the solvency of this district. But I would really like to encourage people to come and listen to the proposals and discussion at tomorrow’s work session.”

MHS Principal Randy Williams admits he is weary of the gossip that has resulted over the years concerning the community school’s possible closure.

“We hear it every year and certainly every time we get a new superintendent. What I am telling people is to come to this meeting, come and show your support for McKenzie School and stay positive,” Williams said.

“I do believe there are other ways to address solvency than to close a school and affect several hundred people’s lives. Having seen the figures, I just don’t think closing our school would make that big of an impact on our financial situation.”

Williams said he believed the K-12 school with its enrollment of 350 was the “cheapest school in the county” in terms of cost to the district.

“We have the lowest utility rates; all our teaching units are paid for by the state. We are already running a bare bones operation here,” Williams said.

“We don’t want to lose our school. It’s a unique school and it’s very important to this community. I do think our district can find other ways to get us out of this financial situation without closing McKenzie.”

A prayer meeting has been organized at the school for Wednesday night at 6 p.m. and Williams encourages all those who support keeping McKenzie open to attend the event.

The work session, set for 5 p.m. Thursday followed by the regular BOE meeting at 6 p.m., will be held at Georgiana School and both are open to the public.