Frontier board discusses options

NEW MATAMORAS-The future make-up of the Frontier Local school district is not quite yet clear following discussions by the board of education and Superintendent Bruce Kidder at the board’s regular Monday meeting.

Plans to put a 3.3-mill emergency renewal levy on the ballot in the near future as well as the possibility of closing and consolidating elementary schools from three to two were all brought to the table for discussion, but action was held off until future meetings.

Kidder spent most of the meeting explaining the various options the district has to remedy a decline in enrollment and an eventual decrease in money.

“If the numbers keep dropping, we’ll eventually be able to fit into one elementary school,” Kidder said. “We’re going to run out of money eventually.”

The three elementary schools, Lawrence Elementary, New Matamoras Elementary and Newport Elementary, are operating at different costs with varying sizes of enrollment. Lawrence, because of its size, no air-conditioning and other lower costs, is the least expensive to keep open.

Board member Todd Collins asked if the board could receive a list of pros and cons to better review what the best option might be before any further action was taken.

Talks on closing one or two of the three elementary schools came after voters rejected a 9.19- mill, five-year levy in November with almost 85 percent voting against it. The board felt that the “clear message” from voters meant something had to change.

The district has gotten small enough to drop down to two elementary schools, board members reported, but at this time, one might still be too small, as members do not see one of the three schools being large enough to fit all elementary students.

“If we did, we would need to bring in trailers, extra space for classrooms, so we could fit in,” Kidder said.

The consolidation could come within a year or so, but for now, Kidder and the board decided it was too soon to take action. The board gave some indication that closings could possibly come this fall, but it was not likely because of how short of notice it would be.

The emergency renewal levy put on the table will most likely not be put on the May ballot, but voters could see it in November.

“No matter when it goes, it will affect my staff,” Kidder said.

For now, the board chose to wait until future meetings to discuss whether to go forward with the levy.

Kidder also reported that one of the district’s new school buses was hit by a pickup truck recently, an accident that will keep the bus out of commission for some time. The truck hit the front part and knocked it off the side of the road. The bus had just finished dropping off students when it was struck, and the bus driver was not injured.

Also, several district buses went out of service recently.

“Because of the extreme cold temperatures, we had to rebuild some of the parts of the heating systems,” he said