Northmont school board postpones Englewood Elementary closure decision

Proposal is deferred to May; school leaders say it’s not a matter of if, but when it happens

ENGLEWOOD — The Northmont City Schools Board of Education on Thursday deferred action on a proposal to close Englewood Elementary School.

Thursday’s vote to postpone a resolution passed 4-1, with board President Linda Blum dissenting. The board said the issue will be revisited in May.

Prior to the vote — which was the only item on Thursday’s special meeting agenda — Blum said that closing Englewood Elementary could save the district about $1 million a year.

“The only way for us to increase revenue is to ask the voters, and the only way to reduce expenditures is for us to make cuts,” she said. “Reducing our expenses by $1 million per year is clearly significant. Please know the decision to close the building isn’t easy; if it were only about money, it would be an easy decision.”

The closure of the school at 702 Albert St., just west of Main Street in Englewood, is not a matter of if, but when, school leaders said Thursday, because of reduced enrollment and cost considerations.

The school’s closure would mean children and staff associated with Englewood Elementary would be divided between Englewood Hills Elementary, which is a little over a mile to the south, and Union Elementary, which is about 2½ miles north. Class sizes in Union and Englewood Hills schools would be around 24 to 25 students if the proposed closure of Englewood Elementary occurred, according to district.

Northmont’s districtwide student enrollment has declined from 5,043 students in the 2015-16 school year to 4,682 students in the 2022-23 school year, according to Northmont documents.

The district’s five elementary schools have between 244 and 476 students enrolled per school. Englewood Elementary, built in 1956, is the oldest building and costs the most per square foot to maintain. It also has the smallest enrollment and does not qualify for certain federal funds for which Englewood Hills and Union qualify, the proposal stated.

While the public had the opportunity to speak prior to Thursday’s vote, none of the nearly 50 attendees signed up to do so.

Mariah Branham, mother of an Englewood Elementary student, said after the meeting that the proposal was sudden and seems to lack foresight.

“One of the parents at the last meeting said this looks like when our kid comes home and remembers they have a presentation due the next day,” Branham said. “It’s the most vulnerable people, in this case the kids, who are absolutely going to suffer the consequences.”

Branham’s daughter, Rose, is a fifth-grader who attended Thursday’s meeting.

If the board approves the school’s closure in May, those students who live north of National Road would go to Union Elementary and those south of National Road would go to Englewood Hills. Rose said this would mean that most of her friends would go to a different school than her next year.

“If they’re going to close our school, we should get to choose where we go,” she said.

In May, district voters will decide on a new 7.82-mill property tax levy, which Northmont officials say would “maintain the current programming” of the district, not add new features. District voters last approved a new money levy in 2016 (at 5.9 mills).

The 10-year levy is expected to generate $5.8 million yearly if passed and would cost residents $273.70 annually per $100,000 of property value, according to the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.