Swiftwater, Monroe County-
Change maybe in the air yet again in the Pocono Mountain School District. In the last two years hundreds of teachers were laid off as schools were closed. Now, the fate of two more are on the line.
At Wednesday's school board meeting the Superintendent presented a plan to close Barrett Elementary Center and Pocono Elementary Center. This plan comes after the last meeting when board members asked to see how efficiently the district's buildings are being used.
It's all about efficiency in the school district. "There will definitely be a reduction of costs to maintain fewer facilities and overall operations in the district," says Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Robison. She voiced a proposal including closing Barett and Pocono Elementary Centers and consolidating them. The kindergarten through 3rd grade would then go to Swiftwater Elementary, while 4th through 6th grades would go to Swiftwater Intermediate School, which would have to reopen after closing last year.
"Before presenting, the board asked for the best proposal. This is the best proposal," says Dr. Robison. Response from those at wednesday's meeting was mixed. Mike Aleksich, of Canadensis, says "I think we have to slow down and I think that we need to have better decisions made because we can't keep closing schools, we can't." Nanette Piccirillo, of Coolbaugh, says "we are tightening our belts. You can't go to the movies once a week. You can't go out to dinner. This is the same thing with the school district, it's the same thing with the country. We are all having problems balancing our budget and we have to do what we can to save money."
Dr. Robison says the 2 schools they're proposing to close need costly repairs, while Swiftwater Intermediate went through a recent renovation. Either way the district has lost about 500 students in the past year alone, as a result at least 15 staff members will be eliminated, though teachers didn't seem to be worried about their jobs more so the kids' education.
Tom Brogan, President Pocono Mountain Education Associate, says "as buildings keep on getting closed realistically more students have to get piled into the same classrooms. Less opportunities for individualized education."
There will be a public hearing on this topic on February 25th at the Pocono Mountain East High School Auditorium.