A press release from Save Southeast.
“Save Southeast” receives endorsements from NAACP, Greater Wichita Ministerial League, Voice for Liberty and grass roots advocacy groups.
“The coalition to Save Southeast has accepted letters of support and is expanding its influence to keep Southeast High School open at its current location,” says Rev. Reuben Eckels, a former Southeast football standout. As current President of the Greater Wichita Ministerial League, he represents one of numerous organizations that have joined the coalition’s opposition to the closure of the Southeast neighborhood high school.
In addition to the League’s endorsement, the NAACP, Voice for Liberty, The Peace and Justice Center, and Fabrique Neighborhood Association have thrown their support behind the coalition. And, State Senators and Representatives are joining forces with Rep. Jim Ward to fight the high school’s closure with a bi-partisan letter asking the Board to honor its commitment to Southeast before expanding plans with a new school. Supporters will be represented at the Press Conference.
“These alliances are not common,” states Eckles. “But the injustice of this situation is obvious; groups that typically embrace opposing policy solutions have come together to advocate for the children and families of Southeast High School.”
The Board has a pending vote on Monday, June 24, to determine if Southeast High will be closed in favor of building a new $54 Million high school at 127th east and Pawnee.
“The Wichita School District has recently been in the business of closing our city schools and busing kids to the suburbs. This sort of “suburban school flight” policy has been in force in larger cities like Chicago, and is now being implemented here in Wichita,” Eckels continues.
“I used to be a supporter of USD 259. That has changed. In 2008 school district officials came in our churches. They came in our places of business and promised that if we voted for the bond, they would make improvements to our city schools. They even said that kids do best when they have access to a neighborhood school. But instead of keeping their promises, they used our vote and the taxpayers’ money to close our schools.
Why should minority and low income families bear the brunt of forced busing again?” Eckels asks. “How is that equitable? Haven’t we spent a lot of money trying to ‘close the gap’ between disadvantaged kids and kids who do well in school? Why would we change course now and hand these kids and their families more challenges?”
The District claims it could move its central offices to the high school building, or could form a partnership with Wichita Area Technical College, but Save Southeast proponents are skeptical. “These are the same folks who have closed the very schools they promised to renovate,” Rev. Eckels states.
“Families, community businesses, and taxpayers need to visit www.SaveSoutheast.com, where Board Members’ contact information is posted. Tell the Board to vote for Option A-2. It provides for a new swimming complex, auditorium, plus additional athletic and practice fields at a total cost of $18.5 Million. It keeps Southeast High School in the neighborhood, and saves 35 Million dollars!”