Board prepares to vote on closing elementary

JERSEY SHORE – As the Jersey Shore Area School Board prepares to vote in less than a week on whether or not Nippenose Valley Elementary School will close, the administration again presented the numbers on the building Monday.

Superintendent Richard Emery said the major savings of closing the school would come in the form of staffing, which he said would be about $452,000 a year. Other savings would be in technology, with $15,500 in annual savings, and the building itself in the form of $72,480 a year.

Emery said there would be a transportation cost of $79,351 for the first year because state transportation reimbursement goes off of the previous year. That cost would make a first-year savings of $460,920 and a savings of $514,085 from there after, Emery reported.

Amy Lorson, of Limestone Township, reported to the board that she received 133 signatures of parents who were in favor of having their child attend a charter school if Nippenose is closed. She added that if even a quarter of Nippenose’s 192 students chose to go to a charter school it would cost the district close to $500,000.

Lorson said the signatures were just the “tip of the iceberg.”

She also pleaded that the board think of the children when making their vote at the high school on June 17 at 7 p.m. In other business, the public also worried about the numbers they were provided with from the district regarding the Jersey Shore Elementary School construction project.

Adrianne Stahl, of Limestone Township, questioned why the district reported the cost of the project at $15.1 million when district documents stated it was a cost of $22.6 million. Interest rates also vary when the bonds are supposed to be fixed, she said.

Adrienne Craig, business manager, would say later in the meeting that she suspected the increase in cost to be because of interest and that the rates were fixed over time, meaning they would average out to the fixed rate.

Others also asked for answers when it came to the construction project.

Burt Francis, borough resident, wanted to know how the district would pay for the project without raising taxes.

“I don’t mind paying taxes but I also want to know where it’s going,” Francis said.

Craig explained during a presentation that the millage was in place from previous years when the state budget numbers came in better than what the district budgeted for, which allowed the district to use the millage for this project.

Craig also reported that the district’s current debt would be paid off by 2030.

And as for Francis’ comment on the project costing a total of $58 million with interest, Craig said that would be the total for all of the district’s debt if it received no state aid. The district is receiving aide on all debt besides the bond issues from 2012 and 2013, she said.

Keith Barrows, of Porter Township, said making information, such as that pertaining to Francis’ inquiries, easier to find would make sense.

Instead of making the public search for the information on various websites, by supplying a link on the district website and showing residents how to access it, would allow everyone to be informed, Barrows said.