Part Five of a five-part series on Abilene’s high school
On April 19, 1917, opponents of the Mud Creek site for the new high school got together and attempted to prevent the school board from purchasing the land.
A petition of 17 signees was presented to the district court in Herington to file an injunction against the school board from purchasing the Mud Creek site on April 19 and was approved by Judge R. L. King. According to the Abilene Weekly Chronicle of April 25, 1917, the petition for the injunction asked the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent the school board from using any money to purchase land or let out contracts for the construction of any school building.
The petition also asked that the court, after a hearing was held, make the injunction permanent against the school board.
From the Abilene Weekly Chronicle on April 25, “we believe that most of the men who lent their names to the injunction proceeding did so in the belief that they were acting in the best interests of the city but this cannot be said of all of them. Two or three of these men and a small following of their political friends have been beaten in a fair fight and in the site location the people voted against them.
“Having lost out in the school site which they wanted and having thus far failed to run things, they are now fighting to prevent the location of the school where the people voted to have it placed and to prevent the majority of the board from carrying out the people’s wishes. Some of the people who insisted that a big school was greatly needed and needed quickly are now for waiting until materials are less expensive. Because the majority was not in favor of their plans, they are now for anything to beat the majority, and their present faction as reflected in the injunction petition is pretty good evidence that they would be best satisfied if Abilene got no new high school.”
On May 3, 1917, the Abilene Weekly Reflector reported on the district court hearing on the injunction. Judge R. L. King argued that he should not be the one to decide the high school location for Abilene but that the school board should hold another vote to give the citizens of Abilene another chance to vote between the Mud Creek site and the Brown site. The majority of the school board, though, disagreed and “positively refused to have such a vote.”
Then on May 17th the Reflector noted that Judge King had dissolved the injunction but that the supporters of the injunction had appealed and sent the case on to the Kansas Supreme Court. Therefore, Judge King had “issued an order staying all proceedings in buying the creek school site…” until the Kansas Supreme Court had decided on the injunction suit. With this order, the school board was unable to proceed with the construction of the high school and the controversy would continue to fester.
According to the Abilene Weekly Chronicle of May 23, 1917, “the Elm Street [Mud Creek] site received the largest number of votes and if an injunction will prevent the erection of the building there then it seems only logical that another injunction will prevent its erection on a site that received a much smaller number of votes.”
“Probably a majority are in favor of delaying the erection of the building on the grounds of economy, but not all of these are sincere. There are quite a number who are for spending the money providing the building is to be erected where they want it, but if it is to be placed on some other ground, then they are for economy.
“Since some eight or nine different sites have been proposed it looks as though there would always be an ‘economy’ majority…. Abilene will no doubt get a new high school- but when? From three to five years hence, is the guess made by many.”
With the injunction suit moving on to the state supreme court and the continued heated debate over the high school site, the construction of the new high schooled appeared to be far over the horizon. While the controversy continued to heat up during the summer months, the fall would see the resolution of the issue.