Wichita joins National Fight to Save Schools

Wichita, Kansas – Activists with the Southeast Initiative, formerly known as Save Southeast, gathered outside Southeast High yesterday to protest the Wichita School Board’s intentions to close that school and to call the board out for the closure of five other schools in March of 2012. All of the schools that have been closed were located in low-income neighborhoods and had large minority student populations.

Those schools are being rebuilt in undeveloped areas on the outskirts of town, where affluent neighborhoods will be placed, forcing low-income students to be bused out of their communities. These new schools are being paid for with a bond issue that was voted for in 2008, before massive budget cuts from Topeka.


Wichita School Board member Betty Arnold is fond of stating that there was no way the board could have known these schools would have to be closed in order to afford the construction of the new schools. However, in 2009, when the board began selling the bonds to finance new parking lots and buildings, Kansas School Board member Walt Chappell explicitly warned the Wichita School Board that due to a loss in federal funding, the state would be slashing the district’s budget.

Chappell urged the board to reconsider these costly brick and mortar projects. Rather than heed Chappell’s warning, Arnold chose to chastise him for having the “audacity to criticize” the board. Now, four years later, the board is claiming that there was no way they could have known that the district’s budget would be drastically reduced, which is why they have to close schools in low-income neighborhoods, over the objections of parents and concerned citizens.


In reality, the board members have received campaign contributions from the very architectural firm that will build the new schools, Wichita-based Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey. SJCF also lobbied heavily for the bond issue in the first place and would have lost millions if the board voted against building the news schools at this time.

The Southeast Initiative says despite the board’s decision, they are not done fighting and have filed multiple complaints with the Department of Education, joining 25 other cities around the nation in the fight to save schools in low income neighborhoods.


2 thoughts on “Wichita joins National Fight to Save Schools

  1. What can I do?!!!! That was where I went to school. They have 25 million to build a school yet, all the lay offs and hiring freezes. It makes me SICK. I’M ONE OF THOSE that lost my job, and they are so short on staff already. They didn’t even have air conditioning in schools when I was young, a nice new school I believe just teaches our kids luxury is free. AND that neighborhood would just be abandoned and filled with crime. Who makes these decisions and why are they so Damon ignorant??!! They have funds for fancy buildings yet not for jobs or education. Southeast is in good shape still. HUGE AUDITORIUM EVERYTHING is already there for a good education!!!!!!

  2. I want to know if this is a done deal. I am ENRAGED. I graduated from Southeast. Right now I am also an unemployed Paraprofessional of 7 years, and the hiring freeze is still on as far as I know. My kids go to elementary, Middle, and HIGH Schools that are so understaffed that I cannot EVER get a return call. And they do NOT have time to work with kids with disabilities. Also the no BULLY policy is a JOKE, a teacher WATCHED her classroom I don’t know about watching while my child was bullied and there is NO answer to this. These schools need more help, where are they getting the money to build new schools, and like someone else said, air conditioning IS a priveledge. Our kids are growing up thinking luxuries are a necessity thus the crime rate will be going up, mark my word. Especially when these kids have to walk way out to and from their new luxurious school. This is not for the kids, this is for the TEACHERS.

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