102-Year-Old School Fighting To Stay Open

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The clock is ticking for a 102-year old local school. According to school officials, they’re trying to raise close to three hundred thousand dollars by the end of June, or they will have to shut their doors.

Panola, Okla. is a small town in Latimer county.

There’s no street lights or shopping malls, but there is the school many call the heartbeat of the town, Panola Public Schools.

"We are looking at 200 to 250 thousand dollars is what we are trying to push for in the next what there weeks,” said Panola superintendent Brad Corcoran.

Corcoran said the push comes from a drop in enrollment and funding.

"We are finding ourselves scrambling trying to find more money," Corcoran said.

The schools said they’re in debt.

"Various vendors that we do business with and the teachers and support staff," Corcoran said.

From the oldest yearbook, to a 1920’s girls basketball team photo, and a letter-man sweater from the 1930’s many said the school is a piece of history.

The schools made cuts to positions. One was lasts years’ teacher of the year.

"It's the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do," Corcoran said.

If the school isn't able to raise the funding by the end of the month the question of where the kids will go to school remains a concern.

“That's a good question,” Corcoran said. “There's a few school districts around the area.

From bake sales, to a make shift thrift store, the community is pulling as one.

"I've cried, I have no more tears to cry," said Panola alumni Shannon Ferguson.

This 1998 graduates fears her children and community won’t experience what she did

"I’ll be scared to go to a school where most people I don't know," said Panola student Hayleigh Drake.

As the clock ticks to raise the money, Panola hopes to have the hallways filled with students soon.

School officials said they have until (June 30) to raise the funds.


  • Someone

    Do not like to see small towns on the downfall of starting to disappear….were can people donate money? I want be able to give a lot but anything is better than nothing. Let us know…you can certainly try http://www.fundme.com a great site for assistance with projects, causes…etc….

  • N/A

    People won’t make a big deal about this, but then you tell someone they can’t fly their confederate flag for one reason or another and its ON!! People should be fighting to support THIS cause…

  • Shannon Reed Ferguson

    I just want to say thank you to news 5 out of Ft. Smith for taking the time to share our story. We have had one other news station come down to our “Podunk” community to help spread the word and they will not even be airing it until July. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So thank you for your time today! Panola is a great school. I am not saying that our neighboring school districts are any less or any better than us but right now, our school is what matters to me and most of us here. I went to Panola from kindergarten to my senior year. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s a part of me just like it is with so many others. We only have a few weeks left to raise an amount of money that is unbelievable. But what’s more impressive is that the Panola community has not given up and we are still fighting. That’s how important it is to us here. We have a Facebook page and it is save our school: Panola public schools. We also have a funding website for anyone who would like to make a donation. http://www.gofundme.com/savepanola.
    Thank you all for tuning in to our story.
    Shannon Reed Ferguson

  • John Doe

    “We are looking at 200 to 250 thousand dollars is what we are trying to push for in the next what there weeks,” said Panola superintendent Brad Corcoran.

    If the superintendent can’t even use proper grammar and english then maybe it is better if these student go to a bigger school where they can get a better educaution. I understand the history… maybe turning the school into a museum would be a better Idea.

  • LibraryLady

    If you’ll notice, the narration of the story is also whacked. It’s the editing of the written story on the webpage that is messed up. Thanks KFSM for running this story! We need more stoires like this that aim to support local causes.

  • Jo

    Thank you KFSM for reporting this story. I teach at Panola, and this is a worthy cause. Some people may not think saving this little school is important, but it is definitely important to the students who attend there.

  • Genia Harber

    As an alumnus and fellow educator I truly appreciate you sharing our story. It is a worthy cause and hopefully you helped shed some light on the situation. Please follow up and let everyone know how the fundraising effort is going. Truly. Thank you.

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