West Branch closing 1 school, consolidating with enrollment dropping and money running out

Local News

The consolidation plan should save the school district around $900,000 per year

BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – West Branch School District decided to close an elementary school, bringing the district down from four buildings to three.

West Branch has been looking for ways to cut because of less money and fewer students. On Thursday night, the school board unanimously passed the proposal.

Now Superintendent Timothy Saxton is moving forward with the consolidation plan that should save the school district around $900,000 per year.

Saxton was given a month to come up with a plan to eliminate approximately $700,000 in deficit spending. It took him and his administrative team four weeks to prepare the plan he presented to the board.

“The administration team and I wanted to make sure that we would have enough space to cover all the programs we have in place and to make sure that lunches would be provided to all of our kids as well,” Saxton said.

About 50 parents, grandparents and community members were at the meeting.

Only five people voiced concerns about the plan, which would close Knox Elementary School and convert Damascus Elementary School into an early learning center for preschool, kindergarten and first and second grade. The projected enrollment will be around 477 kids.

West Branch Middle School will be for third through eighth grades, with approximately 874 students.

West Branch High will remain unaffected.

“From this particular facility, allowed for us to continue the programs we have in place, it allows our student-teacher ratios to stay, basically, the same moving forward and has a minimal impact on staffing,” Saxton said.

The board announced several retirements Thursday night and those positions will likely not be filled.

Now that the plan has been approved by the school board, the aggressive timeline — in the words of Saxton — “will continue moving forward.”

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