West Carrollton board votes to shutter elementary as enrollment drops

A West Carrollton elementary school will shut down in June, a step the board of education president called a “necessary evil” for a district facing enrollment declines.

The board voted 5-0 Wednesday night to close Frank Nicholas Elementary School after 62 years and officials lamented the move Assistant Superintendent Melissa Theis called “the most responsible decision we can make.”

Enrollment in the West Carrollton district – which includes parts of Miami Twp. and Moraine - has dropped by nearly 300 students in three years, records show.

Nicholas has 167 students, fewer than half of each of the other three buildings housing grades 1-5, according to the district.

West Carrollton officials said shuttering the Vance Road school in Moraine is expected to save the district between $700,000 and $800,000 annually. They will seek to re-assign all 34 staff members, including 12 teachers.

RELATED: West Carrollton voters approve first levy in 9 years

“It is unfortunate that our enrollment has declined the way it has,” Miller said after the vote. “But it is a necessary evil that we have to address, and we went through all of the processes that we needed to.”

Closing Nicholas is “not a decision that was entered into lightly,” said Theis, a principal there for 11 years. “But one that we really know is the best thing for our district.”

Miller – a former Nicholas PTO president — said it is “where I got my start.”

Nicholas “is near and dear to my heart,” she said. “All three of my sons went through there.”

Students who were set to attend Nicholas next school year will be assigned to either C.F. Holliday, Harry Russell or Harold Schnell, the district’s year-round school, Superintendent Andrea Townsend has said.

District officials have said they “plenty of room” at those schools, where student populations range from 383 to 442.

Nicholas students will be given preference if they want to attend Schnell, Townsend said. The deadline to apply for that school was Feb. 15.

RELATED: West Carrollton school plan may cost $140M, include consolidation

Siblings who would have attended Nicholas will not be assigned to separate schools, Townsend said. Parents of students in the area of Nicholas will be notified of placement by May 15, she said.

Information that prompted the district to close Nicholas was “sparked” from research West Carrollton officials came across while seeking eligibility for state funding to rebuild its schools, all of which are at least 50 years old, Townsend has said.

District-wide rebuilding is estimated to cost between $125 million and $140 million, West Carrollton Business Manager Jack Haag has said.

Eligibility for funding through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission program requires that all schools have a minimum enrollment of 350, according to Haag. But Townsend said the recommendation to close Nicholas was not related to the district seeking OFCC funding.

Miller said Wednesday night the district is still awaiting word on OFCC program eligibility.

RELATED: School board looks to pick architect to explore new building plan

About the Author