Niagara Gazette — The rain didn't keep many of the planned attendees away from an event meant to save W.H. Stevenson Elementary in Ransomville from being mothballed.
Ruth Anne Buzzard, who organized the event, sees the Wilson School District making a catastrophic mistake if it moves forward with plans to close the building.
"If you close down a school, there goes the community," she said. "This is happening at an alarming rate. We're disassembling America, building schools in other places around the world while ours at home are being shut down."
Buzzard, who in April started a petition to try to force state politicians to provide much more equitable funding to rural, upstate districts like Wilson, brought several dignitaries, including Porter Town Supervisor Merton Wiepert and several members of the Ransomville Fire Department, to the event. Together with members of the school's parent-teacher association, Buzzard lit a 50-foot tree strung with more than 2,000 mini Christmas lights and several stars lit up outside 3996 Andrews Road, Ransomville.
The stars, she said, represent the hopes and dreams of the children the district would be displacing should officials follow through with shutting the school's doors.
"It's kind of an awesome sight," she said about the lights and the stars on the tree. "When we started stringing the lights, I said I wanted as many on there as possible. We got as many light strings as possible on that tree."
The program also featured a salute to veterans and the first responders of the community, which she said rely on schools to keep families in the area. With families to protect, the firefighters, emergency medical technicians and police organizations can actively recruit people to help secure the community.
The Wilson School Board has gone back and forth with the issue of closing the school for a while now. In fact, for more than three months, the district's school board has been contemplating many options, including closing the school, to overcome a projected budget deficit of between $600,000 and $1.1 million, according to School Board President Timothy Kropp.