The survival of one South Plains community is in question after its school district decides to shut down.
Spade ISD is closing its doors after the 2005-2006 school year. The main reason, student enrollment is lower than ever before. Many rural areas are seeing the ripple effect of economics hit their towns. First, businesses leave, giving employees no option but to move. Without residents, property taxes and the tax base dissolve, leaving schools and other businesses no choice but to close.
"At one time Spade was a pretty good size little town, but now it's dried up, just like all these little towns." Jimmy Long has lived in the small town of Spade for 70 years. In that time, he has seen Spade go from booming to broke down. "We don't have any grocery stores. At one time, we had four grocery stores."
When businesses left for a bigger city, so did the residents. Now, the school district with 114 students and 30 staff members are learning what happens when the money can't cover expenses. Superintendent Donette Sabins says, "In rural areas, schools are declining in enrollment. Spade ISD is losing enrollment, which effects state funding, federal funding and local funding."
One repercussion the school district has already seen for this school year is the cancellation of the 6 man football team because there are not enough students to play. Sabins says "It is sad, but we still have to look forward to quality education for students who come to Spade."
So after 76 years, Spade ISD will close its doors, and as far as keeping the town alive, only time will tell. Long says "Spade is all dried up, that's all there is to it. After the school leaves, it's gone."
Spade school board members will start looking into five different districts to see who will bid to consolidate with their 114 students. Those districts are, Littlefield, Anton, Olton, Cotton Center and Abernathy.
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