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South Whidbey School Board reverses course on closing LMS

Board Member Linda Racicot listens as School Board Member Damian Greene reads a prepared statement about his support to keep Langley Middle School open during the school board meeting Wednesday.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Board Member Linda Racicot listens as School Board Member Damian Greene reads a prepared statement about his support to keep Langley Middle School open during the school board meeting Wednesday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY – Langley Middle School won't close its doors come September 2012.

The South Whidbey School Board voted 4-1 Wednesday to rescind its earlier decision to close the iconic facility by the start of the next school year.

The decision to close the historic school has been controversial since it was suggested more than two years ago as a prudent response to declining enrollment and evaporating revenue; teachers, students and parents protested the July 2009 closure decision and raised concerns about middle schoolers sharing a campus with South Whidbey High School students. A proposed $25 million bond measure to expand the high school for the consolidation effort fell to defeat a year ago, and many blamed voters' rejection of the measure on the school board's vote to close LMS.

The about-face on mothballing LMS came at the new board's first opportunity for the change.

The turnaround came after two new members joined the school board following November's election, and two of the stanchest supporters of closing LMS — and consolidating the district's schools on Maxwelton Road — did not seek re-election.

Linda Racicot and Damian Greene were sworn in as board members Nov. 30, and officials announced that night that they would revisit the closure vote at the board's next business meeting on Dec. 14.

Greene and Racicot joined Board Chairman Steve Scoles — who was the sole vote against closing LMS more than two years ago — and Board Member Fred O'Neal in voting to rescind the board's move to shutter the middle school. Board Member Jill Engstrom voted in the minority.

Now, the school district will move forward without a deadline looming and also without a plan of what to do next.

Officials vowed to reexamine the district's underutilized schools and seek broad input from the community, staff and others on potential next steps.

 

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