New Poland School Board members playing catch up with district consolidation plans

Local News

Monday night was only their second official meeting and there are several options to consider

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – In November, Poland residents voted in three new school board members. Now they’re working to get up to speed on the district’s consolidation plans.

Those in charge of the plans think it’s moving too slowly but the new board members want them to slow down so they can catch up.

Over the past several years, Poland has closed two schools — Dobbins and North elementary schools. Union Elementary is scheduled to close at the end of next school year.

The commission submitted a report in April 2018 for a plan of consolidation.

“The board, at that time, accepted that, posted it on their website and started the implementation process,” one facilities commission member said.

But for the new school board members, Monday night was only their second official meeting.

“There’s a lot of information out there. There are, obviously, a lot of opinions out there and we have heard them over the last several months,” said school board vice president Larry Warren.

“I’m open to hearing both sides of the argument,” Troy Polis said.

The first option would be for Poland to keep the final four schools as is.

The second gets a little more complicated. It would involve shutting down Union Elementary, which houses kindergarten through second grade, and move those kids to McKinley. The third through fifth graders would be sent to the current middle school.

The final option would combine the middle school with the high school.

The facilities committee wants to try to catch the board up.

“Which was months, and months, and months, and hours and hours of sitting at a table and dissecting every piece of each facility and what’s for the community,” a committee member said.

Dr. Larry Dinopoulos said he feels the facility committee and most of the strategic plan members aren’t doing their part.

“Failed to attend some 40-plus public meetings that we’ve held over the last 18 months.”

The facilities committee said they felt they weren’t going to be included in the decision-making process.

“When you fold your arms and roll your eyes at things we suggest, then you are just putting on a show with the whole committee.”

If the school board closes Union Elementary, it would save $900,000 a year.

A member of the state auditor’s office said two years ago, the district had a projected $4.8 million deficit by 2022. By closing some buildings and not rehiring for positions after staff members retire, the new five-year plan is much more positive.

Since 2017, the enrollment rate has dropped about 10%.

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