Written by Larry Limpf
November 12, 2010
Parents of students attending Rocky Ridge Elementary School are watching various scenarios they claim could be implemented by the Benton-Carroll-Salem school board next year to reduce costs or raise revenues.
A letter distributed in the Rocky Ridge district lists six scenarios – most of which include closing buildings - presented by the administration during a recent work session of the board.
The letter, signed only “Concerned Parents of Rocky Ridge”, claims the administration’s approach to cutting the budget focuses only on facilities.
School board members intend to solicit public input on the options, according to a press release issued by the board after the Oct. 26 work session.
“A reduction of facilities is being considered due to reduced student enrollment, increasing operating costs, and the opportunity to reduce facility maintenance costs while maintaining or improving educational quality,” the release says.
Alternatives being considered include:
• Maintain the facilities as they are now and reduce staff through attrition.
• Closing an “outlying elementary building.”
• Closing “two outlying elementary buildings.”
• Closing two outlying elementary buildings and move fifth grade to the middle school.
• Closing two outlying elementary buildings and move fifth grade to the middle school and eighth grade to the high school.
•Closing two outlying elementary buildings and move fourth and fifth grades to the middle school and move eighth grade to high school.
The parents’ letter, however, says Rocky Ridge Elementary is the likely choice if one elementary school is closed and a levy of about 9.4 mills would be needed.
Carroll Elementary School would be next if two buildings are closed, according to the letter, which says a levy of 8 mills would be needed if that alternative is adopted.
The other scenarios would require levy requests ranging from 7.1 to 7.8 mills, the letter says.
Ron Overmyer, president of the school board, confirmed the millage figures in the letter reflect what was presented to the board but said they are just estimates and could change as the board gathers more data.
“The board will make a decision after collecting the best information we can,” he said. “If we go on the ballot in May we’ll need to make a decision sometime in January. We’ll still have to do some tweaking. I don’t think the district has even passed millage that large.”
He said Thursday he hadn’t seen a copy of the parents’ letter.
Superintendent Diane Kershaw presented the scenarios to the board at the work session.
The letter says: “It is clear that Mrs. Kershaw is only looking at the facilities.”
Overmyer said she is compiling information “at the direction of the board.”
“The board will make the ultimate decision,” he said, adding the district has realized a drop in enrollment of more than 200 students in the past five years and there is no projected increase.
Kershaw couldn’t be reached for comment.