Our last show of the semester was in Plainview, OK. For the small minority of people who may not know where that is, think Colorado. Seriously, it’s way out in the panhandle of Oklahoma, in the only county in the nation that borders 4 states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.
We did our show for 7 students and we performed for the entire student body. This was no one room school either, it was an actual school with cafeteria, classrooms, office, music room, etc. How can it still be open?
It turns out that there is an agricultural corporation that pays the taxes in the area–enough to keep the school open. This is no mean feat, a secretary, 2 teachers, an administrator, custodian, and lunch lady all need to be paid.
There could be several reasons that it remains open. My first thought was that noone wants to pay the transportation costs of taking students to schools from all around the countryside. There are only about 4 towns in the panhandle of any size at all: over 1,000 people. So, it figures that there should be some country schools.
Talking to the faculty though, brought a different conclusion. They said the community doesn’t want it to go away. Since the state has very little to do with the school’s funding, I guess government has little say in the issue.
Coming from a large suburban school district myself, this concept of school as identity is a bit strange to me. In tiny communities, though, I suppose the school is a more powerful unifying force. It is sports, it is choir, it is often the one social entity that everyone participates in. It was kind of a nice thing to see.