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Some small schools face consolidation

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CEMENT, Okla_Four schools in our area could be closing their doors, victims of school consolidation, based on a legislative interim study on school restructuring.

Earlier this year, Governor Mary Fallin called for debate about the structure of school systems in Oklahoma. 32 Oklahoma schools are on a list that could be considered for school consolidation.

Take away the school and the town usually disappears. School consolidation isn't a popular subject, and school officials in Cement, Temple, Duke and Davidson are most likely not very happy to be on the list of schools that could close. But just because you made the list, does not mean that your school will close.

Cement Superintendent Bill Pascoe already knew about the list, not the kind of list he wants to be on for sure, but he feels good about Cement's chances of keeping its school.

"Although it could make you a little nervous I'm not that concerned in the sense that I know we're fiscally sound, we're financially sound, there's a hundred schools smaller in the state of Oklahoma than we are."

Cement wouldn't even be on the list if you took the average daily membership today, that's the average number of kids at school every day, to be on the list you had to be under 250, right now they're at about 258. Advocates for consolidation point out that you can save money by closing smaller schools, but not always.

"Cyril does not have the facilities to house all of our students and we do not have the facilities to house all of Cyril's students. There would have to be sharing of buildings so therefore you'd end up having to use both facilities. Or build a new school which also costs money and supposedly the whole situation is to try to save money."

State Representative Joe Dorman from Rush Springs represents two schools on the list, Temple and Cement. He said he appreciates his small school education.

"The benefits I got there from having smaller class sizes teachers you go to church with every weekend. There really is that compassion to work and make sure because those teachers feel like you're their kids too and that's one of the great things about living in rural Oklahoma and growing up in a small town and having a small school."

It's too early to say what schools, if any, or when they would face school consolidation, because this list is not set in stone, it is simply a list of schools that could be considered for consolidation.

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