School shutdown: 4 elementaries ‘a luxury we can no longer afford’

School shutdown: 4 elementaries ‘a luxury we can no longer afford’

Elementary schools in West Carrollton are less than three-quarters full and shutting one down would save the district the equivalent of a 2-mill levy, school district data shows.

West Carrollton City School District officials said they plan to close Frank Nicholas Elementary at the end of the school year due to declining enrollment.

Leaders of the district, which includes parts of Miami Twp. and Moraine, say they conducted a “comprehensive review” of financial, enrollment and staffing data at their four elementary schools.

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“This review showed that our elementaries are operating at only 70 percent of student capacity, there is an extreme disparity in class sizes across the district in grades 1-5, and the district can reduce operating expenses by consolidating from four to three elementary schools,” according to information on the school district’s website.

“To maintain four elementary schools that are operating under capacity in a ten square mile district is a luxury we can no longer afford.”

West Carrollton school board President Leslie Miller said a vote to close Nicholas at the end of this school year is set for Feb. 20.

The district also is in the process of seeking state funding to rebuild its schools. But the two issues are not related, Superintendent Andrea Townsend has said.

Districtwide, West Carrollton’s enrollment has dropped from 3,911 in 2015 to 3,540 last year, according to Jack Haag, business manager.

RELATED: West Carrollton to close elementary school after academic year

The district has more than 1,400 students in grades 1-5 with all except Nicholas (167 students) housing student populations ranging from 383 to 442, Haag said.

The current enrollment leaves “plenty of room at Schnell, Russell and Holliday” elementaries for Nicholas students “while maintaining the same level of educational support that is currently provided,” according to the district.

Shutting down Nicholas, on Vance Road in Moraine, would save West Carrollton between $700,000 and $800,000 each year, according to district officials who call the estimate conservative.

RELATED: West Carrollton voters approve first levy in 9 years

“A permanent reduction in expenditures of this amount extends the time that our current operating levy can support the district without going back to the voters for another tax increase,” information posted on West Carrollton’s website states.

School district voters in 2016 approved a 5.5-mill levy expected to generate $1.93 million a year. The millage referenced by the district if it closes Nicholas is about 36 percent of the last approved tax issue, the first school levy passage in West Carrollton since 2007.

West Carrollton City School District officials said they plan to vote this month on permanent shutting down Frank Nicholas Elementary School at the end of this school year. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

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