Latham Elementary's fate will be decided this year

The fate of Latham Elementary School will be decided by the South Lane School District school board in the coming months. 

At this month’s school board meeting, the district announced plans to conduct a report on Latham to determine the school’s long-term status. The report, that will be given to the board before December’s meeting, will include an examination of staffing, transportation, technology, educational impact and maintenance.

Additionally, the district will be gathering input from community members and both Latham staff and parents.

“It’s not a Latham closure report, it’s the Latham report. The intent is to give all the infor-mation and facts … so the board can decide if we maintain the building or close the building,” said SLSD interim superintendent Larry Sullivan. “It’s not a closure report but to look at all the options we have and make that decision based on what are the costs and benefits across the board.”

These renewed conversations about the status Latham has been ongoing since last winter when the possibility of closing the school to save an estimated $200,000 per year was brought up at a school board meeting. Since then, parents from Latham have attended a meeting to praise the opportunities that have come from a school with less than 90 students this year and to discuss its value in the area since it first opened its doors in 1853.

Last spring the board believed that if it was determined the school needed to be closed, there was not enough time left in the 2017-18 school year to get everything ready for that process. It was determined that the school would stay open for the 2018-19 school year while a decision would come this fall. The board said the final decision will be made as early as mid-December or as late as February.

“It’s not like we’re putting it off, this is just how long it takes to get it right,” said board mem-ber and Latham parent Taylor Wilhour as discussion broke out among the board about the timeliness of this report. 

“We just want to make the right decision whether we maintain the building or we close the building. I want the best information out there so that we can make that decision,” said Sullivan. 

To start the board meeting, Latham parents Melanie Stuhlmiller and Ashley Rigel spoke during the public comment to urge the board to make a decision as soon as possible.

“I just really ask that instead of this slow, painful peel of the band aid, we just get it over with whatever your decision is,” said Stuhlmiller who also serves as an EA and Librarian at Latham. “And not a lingering, we’re going to wait one more year and reassess. Or a we’re going to wait until February to make a decision. We kind of just, do your due diligence, go over everything, hear everybody, like I know you guys will and make your decision.”

“Our kids’ education is limbo and our lives are kind of in limbo,” said Rigel.


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