West Branch Schools superintendent explains building restructuring plan for next year

Local News

The plan revolves around closing Knox Elementary School because of enrollment issues

BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – The West Branch Local School District is still planning to close one of its elementry schools this fall.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Tim Saxton met with people on Facebook Live to explain the plan and answer questions.

The plan is to close Knox Elementary School because of enrollment issues.

“We have lost a significant number of students in our district over the past several years,” Saxton said.

In a slideshow, Saxton compared the 2009-2010 school year to the 2019-2020 school year. The slide showed enrollment is down by 495 students.

Another slide showed the operating cost of all of the district’s schools, with Knox Elementary coming in as the cheapest at just under $500,000.

Consolidation Planning Community Update Slideshow

“We took a look at, once again, options in terms of building idle, building closure. At this time, we are going to afford with closing Knox,” Saxton said.

The plan is to move kindergarten through second-grade students to Damascus Elementary and rename it West Branch Early Learning Center.

West Branch Intermediate and Middle School would then have preschool and grades three through eight.

The high school would remain grades nine through 12.

“And that will be a high school, not a junior and senior high school,” Saxton said.

The district has a timeline of how it plans to make this happen, with staffing being addressed in April.

“So there are folks that will stay at the same grade levels or that will stay at the same positions but potentially moved to another building and we want to have those conversations,” Saxton said.

In May, they plan on finalizing building start times and transportation. Saxton said he does not plan on changing routes.

Saxton went on to address some rumors and questions that were sent to him, including open enrollment.

“Open enrollment will not exist: that’s false. We rely on our open enrollment students to balance out classes,” he said.

He said other rumors were also false, like the student to teacher ratio. He said they do not anticipate inflating the ratio.

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