Wednesday, December 12, 2018


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Quakertown Community School District Plans for Elementary School Closure
Written by Jennifer Butler, Correspondent

            Last Thursday, a committee formed of Tohickon Valley Elementary School staff and parents presented its recommendations to the school board for student reassignments should the board vote to close the school after the 2017-2018 school year.

            Several members of the 10-person elementary reassignment committee took turns presenting parts of a plan to have Tohickon Valley students reassigned to either Neidig, Quakertown or Trumbauersville elementary schools. One goal of the committee was to ensure no student would have a bus ride exceeding 45 minutes.

            The reassignment was one of four options developed and presented in a detailed report Nov. 9. According to the report, reassigning students from Tohickon Valley to the three elementary schools would allow the district to proceed with its current facilities improvement plan, while continuing efforts to close a structural budget deficit.

            In April, Superintendent William Harner presented a plan to close a $4.7 million deficit that included the closure of Milford Middle School and an elementary school consolidation. Milford Middle School's closure after the 2016-2017 school year was projected in that plan to save the district $1 million.

            Part of the district's facilities plan includes significant renovations to Neidig Elementary. The committee noted that the recommended plan relied on those renovations going forward as planned.

            Committee members also acknowledged that the consolidation would leave the elementary schools overcrowded for a projected two to three years. The average class size would increase from 21 to 23.  

            A vote on the school's closure is expected at the Dec. 7 regular voting and annual reorganization meeting. That meeting will occur with a board comprising four new directors, voted in earlier this month. Director Stephen Ripper was not present at the Nov. 9 meeting, but Robert Smith, Charles Shermer and President Paul Stepanoff each took a few minutes at the end of the meeting to bid farewell.

            Stepanoff thanked the board, administration, staff, parents and students for ongoing support during his 12-year tenure on the board.

            "I? am truly humbled by the support I've been given," Stepanoff said, adding, "The election by far is the easiest part of what constitutes a long journey."





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