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Jersey Shore School Board weighing options

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Avis Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

JERSEY SHORE — With Monday night’s defeat of options for dealing with the ongoing budget issues at the Jersey Shore Area School District, the administration will revisit budget procedures, according to Dr. Jill Weinrich, superintendent.

“We are looking at the budget closely to find a solution for funding concerns, particularly property taxes and charter schools,” she said.

“We owe it to our staff, students, parents and the community to do so,” she added.

The board had voted at a recent meeting on an option which would have involved the closure of both Avis and Salladasburg elementary schools. In addition, the plan included the reconfiguration of the remaining schools in the district. The reconfiguration would have made Jersey Shore Elementary, grades K-3; Jersey Shore Middle School, grades 4-7; and Jersey Shore Area High School, grades 8-12. All changes would have taken effect for the 2020-21 school year.

The estimated net recurring operational savings was initially listed at $891,061.00

The measure was voted down with a 4-4 tie vote.

Members of the community at the meeting spoke passionately on both sides of the issue.

“You will be voting … on something that will affect the direction of this district, either negative or positive,” said Bob Pryor, who favored the closures. “If you look around and see what the other school districts are doing, it’s pretty clear. Now South Williamsport is doing a very similar thing.”

Pryor challenged board members to remember their oath of office and act in a “fiscally responsible manner.”

Those residents arguing against the closures cited the fact that four new board members will be seated in the near future and should be the ones to try to solve the fiscal issue.

Alicia Bilbay, a mother of school-aged children in the district, told the board they needed to look at who “raises their children here.”

“It is people born and raised here. We could go to cities like Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh where there is big

business and have a much higher income. I actually went to Harrisburg as soon as I graduated from college, but when it was time to have babies, I transferred back here. Why? We want our children in small schools. We want to raise our kids in a rural environment. We do not want academies,” she asserted.

Other possible options, which did not garner a motion to be brought before the board, included:

• Option 1 – Closure of the administration building with a reconfiguration of all current existing elementary buildings to K-6, (date to be determined). Estimated net recurring operational costs equal $285,904.

• Option 2 – All current existing buildings remain, with a reconfiguration of all current existing elementary buildings to the following: Avis Elementary (K-2), Jersey Shore Area Elementary (3-5), and Salladasburg Elementary (K-2), effective 2020-21 school year. Estimated net recurring operational costs equal $164,587.

• Option 3 – Closure of the administration building with a reconfiguration of all current existing elementary buildings to the following: Avis Elementary (K-2), Jersey Shore Area Elementary (3-6), and Salladasburg Elementary (K-2) as well as a reconfiguration of the Jersey Shore Area Middle School to include grades 7-8 only with central office administration, date to be determined. Estimated net recurring operational costs equal $134,587.

• Option 4 – Closure of the Avis Elementary building including a reconfiguration of grades as recommended by the superintendent or by an independent third party feasibility study, if performed, effective 2020-21 school year. Estimated net recurring operational savings equal $122,707.

• Option 5 – Closure of the Salladasburg Elementary building including a reconfiguration of grades as recommended by the Superintendent or by an independent third party feasibility study, if performed, effective 2020-21 school year. Estimated net recurring operational savings equal $144,104.

• Option 6 – Closure of the Avis Elementary building and the Salladasburg Elementary building including a reconfiguration of all remaining existing buildings to the following: Jersey Shore Area Elementary (K-3), Jersey Shore Area Middle School (4-7), and Jersey Shore Area Senior High School (8-12), effective 2020-21 school year.

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