School board dispels Caln closure rumors

District says no decision on fate of elementary school has been made yet

By Jamie Richard, Staff Writer,

Parents expressed concerns that Caln Elementary School might be closed to help the coatesville Area School District close a $6 million budget gap.

COATESVILLE – Several concerned parents and residents spoke out at the Coatesville Area School Board meeting Tuesday to address rumors about the closure of Caln Elementary School — as district officials made it clear no decision has been made as of yet.

Budget issues are forcing the board to consider shutting down the elementary school; the school board has cut out around $3.5 million out of the budget but needs to cut a total of $6 million.  Parent Jen Redmile spoke out to in defense of the elementary school, claiming that shutting down schools may not be the best way to save money.

“We have a situation…and we have to move forward.  I don’t think that closing our school is a solution,” said Redmile.

Redmile also expressed frustration over a speech given by Superintendent Richard Como at the district’s last committee meeting.  According to Redmile, residents felt as though they were being pressured into the agreeing with the decision to close Caln.

“I felt bullied…like we were being yelled at,” said Redmile.

Como apologized for having offended anyone and added that his previous statements were merely an attempt to rally the residents of Coatesville together.

“If I get impassioned or speak with a little bit higher intensity it’s because I have a great deal of pride about this place and I don’t want to see it do anything but excel,” said Como.

Members of the board informed the audience that there has been no definitive decision made to close Caln as of yet. Regardless of the decision reached, the elementary school will remain open for the 2012-2013 school year and would not close until the 2013-2014 school year at the earliest.

Should Caln close, the board has considered two options to relocate students throughout the district.  The first option would move all of Caln’s fifth-graders to the three middle schools, allowing for more room in the district’s other elementary schools for the rest of Caln’s students.  The other option would be to convert Scott Middle School into an elementary school and relocate all of Scott’s current students to the other middle schools in the district.

Several residents seemed nonplussed by the board’s solutions and were unsure that relocating students was the answer to the district’s problems.

“I don’t see how moving kids all over the district, busing kids all over the district…how does that cut costs?” asked resident Felicia Kylie.

The board admitted that the majority of money saved would be in energy costs.  The board also hoped that relocating students would allow the district to utilize its current facilities more efficiently.  At present, Scott Middle School is only using about 50% of its maximum capacity.

Despite the looming budget issues, Como remained optimistic about the future of the school district.

“There’s an old saying…you never know how far a frog will jump until it’s been kicked.  Well, we’ve been kicked and we’re going to jump as far as we can in the right direction, you can bet on it,” said Como.

The school board will hold their next regularly scheduled meeting on Mar. 27.

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