Frontier parents speak up against realignment

NEW MATAMORAS — Discussion of realignment for the elementary schools in the Frontier Local Schools District brought a room full of about 40 concerned parents to the regular Board of Education meeting on Monday night.

Parents are worried about new class sizes that have been set forth by the district.

“We’ve talked about scheduling and it’s still tentative, but this is not something have needs board approval,” said Superintendent Brian Rentsch. “Brian Williams is in charge of scheduling. I suggested he talk to teachers and listen to their concerns as far as this new plan goes.”

Eventually, Rentsch said he would like to draw a line to determine what students went to which schools. He has also mentioned before he’d like grades kindergarten through third grade to be at Newport Elementary School and grades fourth through sixth at New Matamoras Elementary School.

As of now, students in third and fourth grade will share one classroom at each of the two elementary schools that will have two teachers inside the classrooms co-teaching.

“Some kids in the building are required to have a certain time with intervention specialists. What’s going to happen there,” said Kylee Haught, a Frontier Local Schools parent. “I’m worried that my children’s education will be effected by these changes. It’s a big change.”

Rentsch said eventually he would like to have all the schools like this but is trying with these grades first.

“We may have to send some students from Newport to New Matamoras but the idea is one classroom per grade,” he said. “This is the best educational opportunity we have.”

During the public forum, parents threatened to send their children to another district if realignment happens.

“The board and I have to talk about the avenue we would go,” said Rentsch. “Nothing is final but the plan is to try this with the third and fourth grades.”

According to Treasurer Lee Howard, the savings by congregating classrooms is around $187,000.

“I would think as far as open enrollment goes, we would not turn any kids away,” said President Justin Hoff.

Board member Jeff Webber agreed that the superintendent is making the appropriate adjustments to save the district money where they can.

“Everybody’s not used to change,” he said. “This is our second superintendent in two years. The last one got us behind but this one is working really hard for us.”

In other news, Frontier Local Schools signed off on the program partnership with the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The district entered into the program in November of 1999 to build new elementary schools and update the high school.

“We went through a third party called RKS to help us with our savings and finally put an end to this,” said Dan Doyle who served as the interim superintendent before Brian Rentsch. “When I was the superintendent in Noble County, Frontier was the poster child for all things gone bad.”

Frontier undertook a $24.7 million project in 1999. There were reports of shoddy workmanship and use of incorrect materials resulting in poor construction. The district has had to work to make its own improvements over the years.

“In 2004, the board refused to sign off for this program to end costing us $1.6 million back to OFCC,” said Doyle. “Now, that fund is at $990,000 and we get to keep around $473,000.”

Rick Swart, program services director for the now called Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, said that he’s pleased with the building they have now.

“I want to thank the district for working through the issues we had,” he said.

“I’m now proud of what they have here in the district.”

What’s next

The next regular Board of Education meeting for Frontier Local Schools District will be on April 17 at 7 p.m. in the library of Frontier High and Middle School.