PICHER — A proposition to dissolve Picher-Cardin Public Schools was overwhelming approved by voters on Tuesday, by a vote of 55 to 6, or 90 percent to 10 percent. The vote means the Commerce and Quapaw school districts will absorb about 49 students.
Ottawa County Election Board officials said there were 1,200 to 1,400 people eligible to vote, but because of a federally funded buyout, most residents have already left the area. The combination of last year’s F-4 tornado — which killed six people — and a 2006 Army Corps of Engineers federal study showing abandoned lead and zinc mines undermining the area has decimated the Ottawa County community. Residents have struggled to keep the school afloat, but over the years the school district has disbanded programs because of declining enrollment. This year’s enrollment is less than half of what it was last year, school officials confirmed. Three years ago, Picher had 118 high school students and 340 students overall. In February 2007, the town voted 142 to 132 to keep the school open. Sheila Stogsdill, State Correspondent