Chauncey Elementary Future Continues To Hang In The Balance

By
Bethany Venable

Dateline
Updated Mon, Jan 23, 2012 4:59 pm

Parents, staff and students anxious for the Athens City School Board's decision whether to close Chauncey Elementary will have to wait a while longer.

Superintendent Carl Martin says the board informed him members would not be taking an action on the matter at their next meeting, January 26. Instead, the board is expected to make a recommendation at the February 23 meeting.
 
Martin says board members told him they needed more time to review materials, such as public comments made during a previous forum, before moving forward.
 
Martin recommended in December to shutter the school in an effort to close a budget shortfall. At the time, he told WOUB News the district faced a budget reduction of nearly $1 million in the next year.  That figure comes on top of cutting $500,000 the previous year.
 
Martin cited enrollment figures as his reasoning behind choosing Chauncey to close.  According to a memo he sent to faculty, staff and the community, during the 2011-2012 school year, 134 students are enrolled at Chauncey Elementary, compared with 338 students at The Plains Elementary and 266 at West Elementary. In the memo, Martin recommends combining Chauncey and The Plains elementary schools and reducing staff "as needed in accordance with state and federal laws and our negotiatied employee contracts."
 
He goes on to propose the building be used for a number of possible scenarios, including for a preschool program, housing for the elementary school special education program or be leased to outside entities.
 
Concerned parents and staff voiced their opinions at a special school board meeting January 11. More than 150 people attended the public forum, many praising the school and staff while questioning if combining the schools would create over-crowding at The Plains Elementary.
 
 
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