Why many Valley schools are making tough decisions to close buildings, move grades

Local News

Some big changes are ahead for many local school students in the coming years.

With less than 50 days left in the school year, many students across the Valley might be in a new school building next year.

Poland Local Schools has joined districts in Boardman and Howland in making the tough decision to close school buildings.

“We will be populating McKinley, the middle school and the high school,” said Poland Schools Superintendent David Janofa.

Janofa says Union Elementary will close starting in the 2021-2022 school year.

That means pre-k through second-grade students will move to McKinley Elementary School. Seventh and eighth grades will shift up to the high school.

Declining enrollment means there will be plenty of room.

“We will be around the mid-500s for high school enrollment. The building was built for a thousand kids,” Janofa said.

District offices will move to the former Dobbins Elementary.

Janofa says the new alignment will mean greater access to programs for students, something Sebring is discovering too.

“It’s not a money thing, it’s not a consolidation thing, it’s about what’s best for the students,” said Sebring McKinley High School Principal Joe Krumpak.

Sebring Local Schools is looking at a new science and math curriculum that targets kids in grades six, seven and eight.

The district is looking at moving sixth graders up to the high school to make it easier and to accelerate learning, but Krumpak says he understands parents might not embrace the change.

“For most people, change is difficult because it’s the way things have always been done. But I feel with us being transparent and showing exactly why we want to do what we want to do, and some data behind it, it just makes good sense,” Krumpak said.

Sebring parents are being asked to weigh in on the new proposal at a special meeting on April 1.

Both Howland and Poland voted this week to close school buildings.

Boardman made the same decision in January.

By moving students around, the districts say they’ll be able to meet their budgets while still educating students.

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