BLOSSBURG - A public hearing Monday on the possible closure of the elementary school here drew a markedly smaller crowd than a similar hearing for the high school closure last year.
Eight people spoke to the board during the hearing. Six of those were from the borough and asked the board specifically not to close the elementary school because they had children enrolled there.
According to Superintendent Keith Yarger, state Department of Education and other studies indicate a decline in enrollment districtwide, with PDE predictions for 2020 putting the district at 1,941 students.
"We are already on a more accelerated rate, with 1,939 students at third day enrollment, but as of today, we have 1,932, so we are losing students in the district," he said.
In 1998, the district had 2,518 students, a decline of 579 students.
In class sizes, if Blossburg Elementary School closes, the district would have a 12.3-to-1 teacher ratio overall, which still is below the national average ratio of 15.5-15.8 students-to-teacher, Yarger said.
About 108 students from Blossburg who live south of South Williamson Road and surrounding townships would be bused to Liberty and 190 who live north of South Williamson Road and surrounding townships would be bused to Mansfield, he said.
Four teachers would be cut, along with four support staff, plus some extracurricular staff, he added.
Of those who spoke, John Berguson, of the borough, wanted to know why the board couldn't hold at least a nonbinding referendum to gauge how the community is feeling about closing the school.
"We seem to be like a rabbit that is running back and forth across the road. The information seems to be somewhat contradictory and lacks consistency. I think rather than rush into it we need to study this a little more," he said.
Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to its office at 241 Main St., Blossburg, PA 16912, or dropped off there by noon March 4.
In other business, next year's school calendar also was presented to be voted on next week, with the first day of school Sept. 3 and the last June 6.
Richmond Township resident Sean Bartlett asked the administration if it had looked at making Act 80 teacher planning days full days instead of half, in consideration of parental work schedules.
"We found half days to be a lot more advantageous for teachers as far as getting students in the right classes and changing directions in lesson plans, as they get to meet more frequently in a two-hour meeting versus a full-day meeting," Yarger said.
Also on the agenda for a vote next week is a redesignation of the funds from a 2010a bond issue originally designated for the North Penn school project, so it can be used for any of the district's schools.