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Discussion of closure plans to occur during special meeting

JERSEY SHORE – The Jersey Shore Area School Board will hold a special meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in order to discuss two possible options for school closures which were introduced earlier this year at public hearings.

At their last meeting, the board decided that more time was needed to discuss the plans that had been offered for solving the district’s financial difficulties.

The special meeting ran as a public notice in an edition of the Sun-Gazette last week.

Five plans had been introduced by the board and two are expected to be discussed this evening, although the option to also include the other plans is possible. No vote is expected to be taken on the plans at this meeting.

The plans to be discussed include the closure of either Salladasburg or Avis elementary schools or both schools.

At a previous hearing it was noted by Dr. Jill Wenrich, district superintendent, that the population in the district is declining, while at the same time there is an increase in the elderly populations which directly affects school enrollment.

From a 2016-17 school year enrollment of 2,435, the student population declined to 2,321 for the 2018-19 school year.

With the closure of just the Salladasburg Elementary school, a possible net savings of approximately $184,000 could be realized, Ben Enders, the district’s business manager and board secretary, had reported at the earlier hearing.

This would be realized from the furlough of one or two teachers, one secretary and one custodian, as well as from a decrease in operating costs.

The closure of Avis Elementary alone would result in a net savings of approximately $162,000.

Closure of both Avis and Salladasburg schools would result in a total net savings of approximately $750,000 with three teachers, two secretaries, two aides, three custodians and two administrators being furloughed as well as a decrease in operating costs.

The other three options, which are not expected to be discussed this evening, do not include school closures, although two of the plans do call for closure of the administration building.

Under the first plan, the administration building would be closed and the configuration of the student population would be changed so that all three elementary schools would have grades K-6, the current middle school would have grades 7-8 and the high school, grades 9-12.

The net recurring costs for this plan are about $285,000.

For the second plan, all buildings remain open, but the elementary schools would be configured. Avis and Salladasburg elementary schools would each have grade K-2 with Jersey Shore Area Elementary housing grades 3-5. Grades 6-8 would be at the middle school and grades 9-12 at the high school.

The total net recurring costs for this plan equals almost $165,000.

The third plan is a hybrid of plans one and two which would include the closure of the administration building. The configuration of the grades would be: K-2 at Avis and Salladasburg; grades 3-6 at Jersey Shore Area Elementary; grades 7-8 at the middle school and grades 9-12 at the high school.

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