Copper Center School set to close; Stony River students fight to keep school open

AnchorageMay 14, 2013 

Students of Gusty Michael School in Stony River.

KUSPUK SCHOOL DISTRICT PHOTO

The Copper River School Board has voted to close the Copper Center School, the district's oldest, because of low enrollment. KCHU in Valdez reports the district must next receive an OK from the Alaska Department of Education. But there's still hope in Stony River,  a village of a few dozen residents along the Kuskokwim River  in Western Alaska that's also struggling against too-low enrollment. Alaska Dispatch reports that students are pledging proceeds from their store to help keep their school open.

The six students, ranging from the fifth to 10th grade at the Gusty Michael School in Stony River, are "heroic," said Brad Allen, Kuspuk School District superintendent.

"It's pretty phenomenal to see kids wanting to pay to keep their school open when you have so many places in the U.S. where the kids don't care about the school or are not willing to fight for it. It's definitely a welcome change," Allen said.

The store, operated out of an empty teacher-housing unit because the school building closed last year, is the only place to buy food in the community of 40 that lies west of Anchorage across the Alaska Range. Students, who also attend classes in the housing unit, sell everything from ice cream sandwiches, the most popular treat, to staples like bread and milk.

Rural Alaska schools that fall below an enrollment of 10 students are flagged for reduced state funding, leaving them vulnerable to closure. Read more at Alaska Dispatch: Desperate to keep their school, Stony River students raising thousands of dollars

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