Parkview parents express concern about busing plan
Parent Laurie Valley was among those who urged parents of students attending first grade at Footville Elementary in the fall to attend Monday’s meeting. Valley and other parents have concerns about busing nine Footville students to Newark to equalize class sizes.
Valley’s daughter was not among the nine chosen, but many of her daughter’s closest friends would ride a different bus and attend Newark. She questioned the board’s decision to move students to a different school for one year if a school ends up closing.
Parkview Superintendent Steve Lutzke said it’s not uncommon for districts to move students periodically to deal with lopsided enrollment. Projections show two first-grade classes of 24 and 25 at Footville in the fall while the Newark class has 11 kids.
“It’s not fair to the kids to have to be in a class of 25 when some of their classmates are in a class of 11,” he said.
Nine students were chosen to attend Newark based on proximity and special needs, he said. Last spring, the district decided that any new students who lived south of the railroad tracks that bisect the district would attend Newark.
The change will mean minimal additional busing costs because a bus already goes from Orfordville and Hanover to Newark, he said.
On Wednesday night, a school board committee could not reach an agreement on a recommendation to close one of the district’s three elementary schools, Lutzke said.
The committee studying the district’s long-term use of their schools was expected to either recommend or reject a proposal to close Newark.
“We did not come to any recommendation and we are still mired in disagreement in the direction to take,” Lutzke said. “Our population is declining so we need to at some point reduce our schools.”
Lutzke said Newark is the farthest school away and has the smallest number of students, but Footville will need to have more maintenance done to the building. The committee was split on which school should be closed.
The committee includes three board members, administrators and more than a dozen parents and community members.
The committee will meet again in July to reassess the situation. Lutzke said the debate has been going on for all four years he has been in the district and goes back much further than that.
The school board voted 5-2 in December to keep Newark, which houses kindergarten through fourth grade, open at least one more year.
Lutzke recommended in December that Newark be closed in the 2011-12 school year, and he reiterated a point he made then.
“We need to stop talking about this,” he said. “(We need to) either make a decision to close and live with it or make a decision to stay open and live with it. We can’t keep bringing the topic up every year.”