The closing of the Centre Elementary School building in Lost Springs is an occasion to consider both what was, and what will likely never be again. The 85-year-old structure is the last school building among our smallest Marion County communities still in use as a public learning center. Its counterparts in places like Burns, Durham, Florence, Lehigh, Ramona and Tampa have already been silenced; several no longer exist.
A school is the heart and soul of a small town. When schools close, communities wither and fade. Consolidation has been the perpetrator?or at least the hired gun. But the real culprit has been, and will be, financial efficiency. In a changing world, a school in every town is no longer economically sustainable.
Even as the doors close on our county?s last small-town survivor of the 1960s consolidation push, the environment that led to it seems to be reemerging. This year, some districts have consolidated voluntarily. Talk of involuntary closures circulates. One wonders: Do we gain enough in the pursuit of efficiency to adequately compensate for what we?ve lost along the way? ?DR