JERSEY SHORE – The district’s goal of providing the “the best possible education” while being “aware of the need to consider the community as a whole and what ratepayers can reasonably afford” was the task presented to the Jersey Shore School Board by President Mary Thomas, as they debated whether to close one, two, or none of the schools in the district.

“This is a working session to discuss potential changes to the configuration of our school districts,” said Thomas.

“At this stage, it is a statement of fact

mission and not if everyone agrees. You may consider not closing any or one or more buildings or reconfiguring,” Thomas told the board.

Thomas warned that this week’s working session could leave many people confused and in need of more answers. She said that just because certain things are on the list of things to talk about doesn’t mean the council will do them.

“It’s all part of the research that needs to be done for the council to do their due diligence in determining what’s best for the district,” she says.

During the courtesy of the room before the discussion portion of the meeting, comments from community members ranged from not closing buildings to asking council to be aware of the difficulty in procuring even the necessities of base.

The board’s discussion tended to focus on enrollment numbers and the costs of repairing the elementary buildings in Avis and Salladasburg, as opposed to closing one or both schools and transferring all elementary students at Jersey Shore Elementary School facilities.

“I have constituents who are very upset that we are reviewing these options again,” board member Kayla Calhoun said as she wondered why the capital projects committee was unable to come to a conclusion on the matter.

“I’m very disappointed with the capital projects committee that this is where it had to come from. It is very heartbreaking to think that the only thing we hear is negative at these meetings,” she says.

Board member Wayne Kinley was ready with statistics at the meeting, to back up the argument that the district, as well as the county, is losing population. Enrollment figures were also cited by Kinley to illustrate that class sizes at the two outlying elementary schools are smaller than Jersey Shore Elementary.

“Almost all ratings in Salladasburg and Avis are below minimums and Jersey Shore, they are all within range.” Kinley said, referring to the number of students in a classroom.

Whether class numbers should be part of the council’s decision has been debated, as is whether it is better to make repairs to schools and wait to see if numbers improve. or if they go on a rampage and close the schools now.

The issue of student safety was highlighted by board member Michelle Stemler.

“It seems like day by day, when you wake up and look at the newspapers and read different things that are going on, security becomes, I think, one of the biggest needs,” said Stemler.

If not resolved, Stemler said, “We will deeply regret it.”

“We’ve said before that we should look to do more than we’ve done, and we could accomplish so much more if we had all the elementary school students in one building – one place. This would solve the class size issues. This would solve maintenance and money issues. That would solve a lot of problems.” she says.

Some of the problems were highlighted in a recent feasibility study carried out on buildings in the district. Questions were posed to the company that conducted the study and the answers to these questions fueled much of the discussion topics during the working session.

“You have to ask the question or a combination of questions and consider all the solutions that go with the question. So right now, to save money, we’re talking about closing schools, but does that really save money with what we have to spend to add on? » said Thomas.

She said there was more than one way to answer this question.

“It doesn’t have to be with schools closing. We’re not looking at the whole picture,” she says.

“If we look at the big picture and we’re going in one direction, fine. But I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to go in three months and say why haven’t we looked at this. We only looked at that piece of the puzzle when there was more than one solution,” said Thomas.

The next business meeting will be at 6 p.m. on August 29 at the District Administration Office, 175 A&P Drive.



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