Jersey Shore schools open possibility to once again close Nippenose Valley

JERSEY SHORE – After voting a year ago to not close any school, the Jersey Shore Area School Board decided to reopen discussions on closing Nippenose Valley Elementary School Monday.

The item passed by an 8-1 vote. Harry Brungard was the lone board member to vote against the motion.

The motion was made after board member John Shireman requested the board explore closing an elementary school. Shireman voted against a closure last year but now said he has changed his mind.

After the motion was made without naming a specific school, board member Harry Miller said one should be named so the board knew what direction it was going in. Miller named Nippenose as the school to be discussed and Shireman agreed amending his motion.

When asked during courtesy of the floor, Superintendent Richard Emery explained that in order to proceed with potentially closing a school, the district must hold a public meeting to discuss and hear from the public on the matter. The meeting must be advertised for 15 days prior. A 90-day waiting period also is required after the meeting before a vote on closing a school can be held.

After the meeting, Emery said he had no timetable for when the meeting would be held as it was just brought up by the board.

Previous discussions on closing a school centered on Nippenose and Avis elementary schools and is linked to a construction and renovation project at Jersey Shore Elementary School.

The board also voted 8-2 to approve a preliminary budget, which included property tax mill increase of about 5 percent. Business Manager Adrienne Craig explained that although the Act 1 index is set at only 2.4 percent, this allows the district to apply for an index exception with the state.

Exceptions allow districts to raise taxes above the index. Craig said by applying for exceptions, it did not mean the district would raise taxes above the index, calling it a “precautionary measure.”

“This is just precautionary and it doesn’t bind us to anything,” she said.