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2 Newton schools will remain open, but reduced classes

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Parents worried about the future of a pair of Newton schools amid declining enrollment were given a reprieve Monday night. Their schools will remain open.

Parents at the Walton Rural Life Center filled the Newton school board meeting Monday night to talk about declining enrollment. The board voted to reduce the number of classes at both Walton Rural Life and Northridge Elementary. Walton’s parents were concerned that the board might close the school.

In Walton, kindergarten through fourth grade will be reduced from two to one next year, meaning there will be one teacher per class. At Northridge, kindergarten and first and second grades will be reduced to one class each. Walton Rural Life is a special education agricultural charter primary school operated by the District of Newton. Students learn practical skills of rural life, using animals and plants to learn.

“It doesn’t make much sense to have a section of 13 or 14 children in one building, but in another you have a section of 22, 23, 24 when you could move students and scale the section sizes where appropriate within tolerable limits to effectively deliver instructions,” Newton Superintendent Fred Van Rankin said. “We must be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.”

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