Thursday, October 1, 2009

Local Elementary Schools May Consolidate

Katie Boyer

A budget crunch in the Federal Hocking School district could lead to the closing of two elementary schools in favor of a K-12 campus complex. Parents of students at both Amesville and Coolville Elementary are concerned about the possible consolidation in the coming years. The Federal Hocking School Board is holding several meetings to hear what the communities think about the idea. Then it will decide on whether to close the district’s two elementary schools in favor of a single school complex, or pursue another option.

Jim Patsey, Federal Hocking Superintendent, talks about the district's financial problems.

Parents' Concerns
Many parents are concerned about having students from kindergarten to seniors in high school, all riding together on the same bus. They are also concerned about longer bus rides and a shift in time of their school day. Jim Patsey, Federal Hocking Superintendent, wants to make sure those parents are aware that this is not the only option for the schools.

Patsey explains that this is not a problem that happened overnight. Patsey says the district has lost between 500 and 600 students in the last 12 or 13 years. He says that losing that number of students has decreased the district's state funding.

The Ohio Department of Education bases funding on the number of students, and with a large number of those students leaving the district, the funding has gone way down for Federal Hocking, making it difficult for the district to keep the three buildings open.

Dollar$ and $en$e
Two years ago, the district went into fiscal emergency and was projected to be $1.8 million in debt at end of fiscal year 2008. The school has eliminated 68 positions over the seven years that Patsey has been superintendent to make up the budget deficit. In 2009, the school board had to cut $300,000, which is when the idea to close the two buildings in favor of one complex first hatched.

Federal Hocking Superintendent Jim Patsey explains this process will not be decided quickly, and many options are still on the table.

The Federal Hocking School Board called in the Ohio School Facilities Commission to see what it could do to help the district become financially stable. The commission gave the board two options. The first option was to renovate all three buildings, to bring them up to state standards. If this option is chosen, the commission noted the state will pay for 85% of the renovations, and the other 15% will be paid for locally, which would be about six million dollars.

The other option is to close both Amesville and Coolville Elementary Schools, and renovate the middle and high schools to accommodate K-12 all in one location. This option also would be funded 85% by the state, and 15% locally, which would be about $1.17 million.

Other Options
Patsey said it is important for the public to know that closing the schools is by no means the only option. He says the board does not have to partner with the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The school realistically has four options.

Option 1: Partner with OSFC, renovate all three buildings in district.

Option 2: Partner with OSFC, close both elementary schools, renovate high school to accommodate K-12.

Option 3: Not partner with OSFC and still close both elementary schools.

Option 4: Not do anything.

On October 6th, the board will meet to vote on going ahead with the partnership with the Ohio School Facility Commission. The meeting is not to vote on closing the schools, only to decide the first step in moving the district forward. Patsey says if the board does in fact decide to partner with the OSFC, then there will most likely be a bond issue on the ballot in May of 2010.

Patsey says that overwhelmingly, people at the pervious meetings want the buildings to remain open. He says that the board must decide when the buildings should close. The superintendent says he personally thinks the buildings are still in good shape and that the board should keep them open as long as they can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

getting rid of jim patsy would save 109,00.00 a year