May 15, 2018

The Home Press received a Letter to the Editor from a Clarence Resident in favor of redistricting. The following letter is in it's entirety:

"Dear Editor,

One hardly knows where to begin in addressing the South Shelby school issues that have developed in recent months, or whether to address them at all. But I am increasingly frustrated by the many comments and opinions of people who no longer live in the Clarence community, or have never lived in Clarence. So, I feel the need to give the perspective of one who has lived in Clarence for 39 years and favors redistricting. The issue of redistricting the Clarence area so that students may attend Macon R-1 School is a Clarence issue. It is about the children, regardless of what some have said. The idea of closing Clarence Elementary was not even being discussed a year ago, at least in Clarence. I realize now that it must have been a topic of discussion in Shelbina for many months. The issue probably never died in Shelbina after the 2015 issue failed. In 2015 Shelbina people wanted to close both elementary buildings and build a new elementary at South Shelbina. The issue failed. It failed in Clarence by 94%. This was a strong “No” vote by Clarence people. Then in January of this year, Shelbina people went to the Shelby Co. R-1V Board and told the board they needed to put the issue of building a new elementary at South Shelby back on the ballot. The board totally ignored the pleas of Clarence people not to close their elementary school. The board quickly came up with a plan and ballot language to get the issue put on the April election. Now, before the issue was even voted on in April, the Shelby Co. R-1V board said it didn’t matter the results of the election, because it only took 4 votes by board member to close Clarence Elementary, “and we have the votes”. Since the Shelby Co. R-1V board intended to close Clarence Elementary regardless of what the voters had to say, Clarence patrons began pondering what would be best for our students. We could just let Shelbina people close our school and send our children to South Shelby. But experience has taught us that a new building does not equate a better education. In 1993 Clarence Jr. High students were suffering educationally. Students had 7 or 8 study halls a week. The administration and board of education said they couldn’t offer more classes at Clarence Jr. High. They said our only option was to consolidating Clarence Jr. High with Shelbina Jr. High. Fast forward to 2018. Student leaves Clarence Elementary with an above average education, to go to a South Shelby Middle School. Consolidation Jr. High’s did not improve education. Sending our children to a below average South Shelby Middle School wasn’t palatable. So, we considered becoming our own school district. But, the idea of becoming our own district didn’t seem doable. While we have the number of students and assessed valuation to operate our own school, the process and legalities for forming our own district is daunting. How can Clarence people ensure their children continue to get a quality education? Redistricting! Wow! It makes so much good sense! Macon R-1 School is an excellent school. Our children will get an excellent education at Macon. Yes, I am biased for Macon School, having graduated from their 40 years ago, and having taught in their elementary 12years. Putting my bias aside, consider these educational opportunities Macon School has to offer over South Shelby. Macon offers 22 dual credit classes in the high school. They have a dozen extra-curricular clubs and organizations for students. Macon’s fine arts program is outstanding. Their vocational agriculture program is outstanding. Macon students can begin taking Vo-Tech classes as freshmen. In addition to more diversified classes and extra – curricular activates then South Shelby, Macon School offers a more culturally diverse student body. Students feed into Macon School from other surrounding communities, as well as, Tri-County Christian School and Immaculate Conception. Students are exposed to a boarder range of perspectives and ideas. The educational opportunities at Macon School alone are enough to consider sending our Clarence Students to Macon. But I think one must also think of practicalities. Many Clarence people work in Macon. Many more of them go to Macon for the eye doctor, dentist, urgent care, hospital etc. We go to Macon to buy groceries, to have major repairs done on our farm equipment or personal vehicles, to purchase home furnishing and supplies. Currently, Clarence students leave South Shelby when school dismisses to drive to Macon for jobs, social activities, appointments or shopping. It makes far more sense to me to send our Clarence students to Macon, than to run out to South Shelby, grab our students, and then run to Macon for the doctor, dentist, etc.. 84% of Clarence votes said “NO“ to closing Clarence Elementary School. They said “NO” to taking our children out of the community. They said “NO” to taking the heartbeat out of our community. You talk about an emotional issue. I want to cry every time I drive by Clarence Elementary (you can’t go anywhere in Clarence without driving by the school) and realize the day is coming when there will be no children on the playground, no laughter filling the hallways, no special events to attend and to support our children. The Shelbina people had the right to put closing our Clarence Elementary on the ballot. Clarence people had the right to put redistricting the Clarence area so that children can go to Macon School on the ballot. I am only one vote. I realize my opinion really doesn’t matter. It’s the collective vote of the Clarence people that matters. Clarence people have the opportunity to voice their opinion in the August election. Search out the facts, weigh the pros and cons, listen to both sides of the issue, and then exercise your Constitutional right to vote in August.


Susan McCarty, Clarence Resident"