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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reelsville closing looked at as chance for opportunity

Friday, December 16, 2011

A much calmer meeting regarding the possible closure of Reelsville Elementary occurred Wednesday at Central Elementary. The primary reason for the meeting was to answer questions for parents with fifth-graders who would be affected by the possible closing.

As with previous meetings, Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt began by giving an explanation of why closing Reelsville Elementary is one of the only options the corporation currently has.

"We are losing money much faster than revenues are coming in," Bernhardt said. "Everything we're looking at is based on finances."

The school corporation has been consistently losing students each year -- 66 this year. Not only does the decline in students cause a loss in funding, state funding has also been considerably cut.

"It's a general issue that people are losing students," he said. "We're not living within the budget by any means."

Due to space limitations it is not possible to transfer all the students from Reelsville Elementary and house them in just one building, Central Elementary. The proposed plan would move all sixth-graders in the district into the South Putnam High School building.

"Depending on what teachers were to be reduced, you've got an equal amount of what we're spending," he said. "We've had a lot of ideas on what to do to save some money. They don't even come close to the savings needed."

Moving younger students into the high school is one of the biggest concerns parents have regarding the proposal. Many fear for their child's safety when surrounded by much older and larger students. Bernhardt said the highest safety precautions would be in effect at all times.

"The principals and I have identified an area that is really self-contained," Bernhardt explained. "We feel like we can provide a safe environment that's segregated for students."

The proposed area for the students would be just beyond the cafeteria to the east, in South Putnam High School. Having self-contained classes would also mean that students would not have to interact with high school or junior high students in the hallways.

"We're trying to offer the best solid education we can," Bernhardt said. "It wouldn't be any different academically, all of the instruction and lessons would be identical."

As many parents voice concerns on the transition, most at the Central Elementary meeting talked about allowing the children more opportunities with this move.

"The kids are really good, that should not be a major concern," said parent and Fillmore Elementary teacher Jill McCammack on the intermixing with high school students.

Many parents view the move not only as an opportunity for their children to do some growing up, but also having opportunities to participate in music, drama and art programs.

"I think we're selling our high school students short by saying they're going to come in and prey on little kids," said parent Anthony Heavin. "We've got great character kids over there."

No matter how good the opportunities may seem, parents are still concerned their children will be stuck in a classroom all day, with no windows.

"Let them have the good stuff," said one parent who asked to not be identified. "Give them those advantages, and not have them be stuck in a room all day."

The board has not yet figured out the specifics should the proposal be voted on and approved. However, it is known that the sixth-graders would be in the high school and a few teachers would have to be cut, but learning and security would remain the highest priority, board members said.

"Some things need to be addressed before you make a decision to make an informed decision," McCammack said.

What would be done with the Reelsville Elementary building if the school were to close is still unknown.

Currently, the corporation is spending just shy of $95,000 a year for electricity, heating and other utilities for the building. It is likely the school would be maintained at the bare minimum in terms of heating and cooling.

"The building is something the board would have to look at and decide what to do and what is economically feasible," said Bernhardt.

Even though a decision has not been agreed upon yet, the board is running out of options.

"If we wait and go broke, the state will take over and things will be much worse," board president Mike Rissler said. "This is not a first option, it is our last. Sixty-six students is the last nail."

The board has assured the public that no decision has been made. However, it could happen as soon as the next regularly scheduled school board meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19.

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When we needed to close Fillmore the board buckled to public pressure and now we are stuck with a huge bill. If Putnam County would fire all the Superintendents and run under one then we could afford to keep Reelsville. 95K is probably one of their salery .

-- Posted by Hazel on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 6:49 AM

It's amazing how the proposed savings almost exactly nearly equal the current operating losses. What a neat little package this is turning out to be.

-- Posted by Balding Eagle on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 6:55 AM

Hazel I agree, one superintendent for all our county schools would save a lot of money. Why is getting rid of some superintendents never an option?

-- Posted by dandygrandy on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 7:12 AM

There was more to the saving of Fillmore than PUBLIC PRESSURE! The FALSE statements by a couple of then board members were brought out and PROVEN to be LIES!! One of the "ANTI SMALL SCHOOLS" members of the board was defeated in the next election! However,has managed to weasel their way back on the board!! Now we are seeing the next step on the agenda to consolidate the entire corporation!! Reesville people should get busy and expose the TRUTH!! INVESTIGATE PEOPLE!!!

-- Posted by Ya THUNK on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 7:48 AM

Truth is the board closes a school now or the State comes in and closes Fillmore and Reelsville. How about you call your State Representative and complain.

Investigate the other county schools.

NP: 1752 students. more area covered, more students, 2 elementaries. 2 incorporated towns, Heritage Lake

Cloverdale: 1330 students. covers lower portion of Putnam County and Northern part of Owen County 1 elementary. 1 incorporated town.

Greencastle: 2029 students. covers as far north as Wagoner Tree Farm road down to 300 S and west to the Clay Co. line. More Students, Larger tax base. 5 schools.

SP: 1242 students. less area than NP, smaller tax base, 1 small incorporated town, very close to Cloverdale in student population. 4 schools

Three school corporations in our county have more students than us.

GC has 787 more students than we do and they have 5 schools. $6,000 x 787 more students equals $4,722,000.00 more $ than SP.

NP has 510 more students than SP. They have 2 elementaries, middle school (connected to the HS), and HS 4 schools. $6,000 x 510 more students= $3,060,000.00 more $ than SP.

CL has 88 more students than SP. They have 3 schools. $6,000 x 88 more students equals $528,000.00 more $ than SP

Red Flag: Less students, Less money, More Schools

its a no brainer..................................

Do some true investigating people! Be honest with yourself look at the figures. I want money spent on my childs education not on more buildings than are necessary!

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 9:17 AM

If you would do some "true investigating", you would find that the wing at SP,they mentioned putting the 6th.grade in,,was built at a MAJOR add on to the bonding for Fillmore,,to make the debt look like it was all Fillmores fault!! Don't be so gullible to not see this! This wing was added with total disreguard to the steady decline in enrollment! The move they are making now was just what the "ANTIS" wanted!! Look,,but see more than what is just what you wanted to see!! You must certainly look beyound the statements of some of the board!

-- Posted by Ya THUNK on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 7:25 PM

It doesn't matter. We still do not need 3 Elementary schools! Its not about being "Anti" anything its about working within your means.

Its right there in black and white. If larger schools can't afford 3 elementary schools we sure as heck can't. All the kids end up at South anyway. Can you afford to run two households on your income? If you can I bet you cut corners and do things as cheaply as possible. I don't want corners cut on education to keep a building open.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Sat, Dec 17, 2011, at 10:29 AM

It's not that they are picking an elementary to close it's that they should have closed Fillmore years ago instead of spending millions of $ we are now in debt for, but since the fillmore ppl got their way now it's ok with them to close Reelsville. I agree with the solution of one superintendent for our county! Clay does it has nice schools and more opportunities for the students! Since the state is down sizing the county needs to look at this too. If we had school board members that had brains enough to look ahead they could see where we were going!

-- Posted by concern on Sat, Dec 17, 2011, at 5:38 PM

Remember the early 80's plan to build a new elementary school on US 40 near Belle Union Road? An excellent solution then to deal with facility issues at Fillmore and Belle Union. Somebody did not like that one and got it stopped. Central was built (mid 80's)to accomodate all elementary students eventually. Long range planning is tough, especially when you do not do it or do not stick with it. Good luck to this school board and Mr. Bernhardt. This is a tough one!

-- Posted by cvilleguy on Mon, Dec 19, 2011, at 8:49 AM

Thank you cvilleguy. Long term plan was not followed (twice) 10 years ago and then again 5 years ago.

@ concern The board members are using their brains. The first time in a long time.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Mon, Dec 19, 2011, at 9:02 AM

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