The North Greene School District board of education is facing the possibility of closing White Hall Elementary School.
No action was taken by the school board last night on the topic, but it told Superintendent Les Stevens the idea to close the school is still on the table. An informational meeting was scheduled for February 6th at 7:00 at the North Greene Educational Center in White Hall to further discuss ways the district can save money. Stevens says the school board wants to see where $700,000 in budget cuts can be made.
“What the principals and I will sit down and discuss is how it will impact kids as far as class sizes, programing cuts and the number of teachers who might be RIFed because positions could be eliminated," says Stevens. "So, we've got a lot of work to do between now and February 6th."
North Greene Education Association president Shane Owsley says he’s prepared to meet with Stevens today.
“I think, basically, it goes back to collecting facts on options that we have," says Owsley. "Obviously, the union's stance is going to be what's best for the kids and what's best for our members. So, that's what we're going to look at. I'm here collecting information just like everybody else. I'll take it back to our executive council and lay those things out."
Another idea floated by the school board was introducing a tax referendum on the 2014 ballot as a way to create revenue for the district. Also, if White Hall Elementary is closed, administrators have to decide which building those students will attend next school year. It could mean elementary students going to class at the high school.
Allison Tepen has two children at White Hall Elementary.
“My son does not want to lose his school," says Tepen. "I think that if he would have to come to the high school my kids would be very intimidated by all the other children. I think you're going to have, not just my children, but other children who are going to be panicked getting out of their cars because of the intimidation of the high school kids."
Kyle Pohlman is a kindergarten teacher at White Hall Elementary where she’s taught for 18 years.
“I understand there has to be cuts and after listening to them I understand there has to be drastic cuts not just for this year or next year but the years after," says Pohlman. "I just wish, and this is my opinion, that we would've started making cuts four or five years ago just like all the surrounding districts did. Now we're here and we're [possibly] shutting a building down. It saddens me."
The board of education must take action on budget cuts by its next regular meeting on February 20th. The North Greene School District is operating on a $1.4 million budget deficit this fiscal year.