Jersey Shore students worried about school closings

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Emma Butzler, student representative with the Jersey Shore Area School Board and a senior at the Jersey Shore Area High School, presents a survey completed by 75 Jersey Shore freshman, sophomores and juniors during a board meeting Monday night. The concensus was that there are more cons than pros to middle schoolers joining the high school, she said.

JERSEY SHORE — A survey of 75 students at the Jersey Shore Area High School revealed concerns about overcrowding in response to the upcoming school board’s decision regarding closing two schools and doing a district wide reconfiguration.

The survey was conducted and presented by Emma Butzler, 12th-grade student school board representative, during the school board meeting on Monday.

She asked current ninth, 10th and 11th grade students what their thoughts were on the reconfiguration process that will impact the students next year by sending them a survey.

The school board must make a decision about closing Avis and Salladasburg Elementary schools on April 30, and if the school chooses to close the schools, a district wide reconfiguration will also be necessary and may cause grades seven and eight to join the high school.

“I got the opinions, thoughts and concerns by the people most affected by this decision … the students,” Butzler said.

She said students could reply with as little or as much as they wanted.

She asked the students opinions on how the dynamics will change with the new students added, what the advantages were of doing so, what the disadvantages were and opinions on how the change will affect learning.

Mostly, her results showed students feared overcrowding, maturity differences, their education compromised, bullying and issues over lunch periods.

“The most reoccurring theme I saw was that the students didn’t see any advantages … or they felt the disadvantages outweighed the advantages,” Butzler said.

Burt Francis, community resident, said in public comment that he was impressed by the student information about the situation.

“The presentation I think was miraculous,” said Burt Francis, community resident. “They (the students) should be commended for what they’ve done and their interest in their school district … I want to compliment you.”

Five other people got up to speak during public comment, most of which asked for more information about budget and options before the school closure vote.

“The feasibility study had no analysis outside of capacities … Whatever money is predicted to be saved will be lost when students leave for charter schools,” said Alicia Bilbay, community resident.

Don Lomison, community resident, said he was concerned about the ties to Clinton County if schools are closed.

“If you close the Avis School, have any of you thought of what will happen in Clinton County with the Jersey Shore School District? That is the only hold you have in the Avis area is that school,” he said. “If you close it, what’s to say?”