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Poland plan in place for the 21-22 school year

April 3, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Poland School District has the plan to moving forward amid the declining enrollment numbers. Future years are bring a continuation of lower numbers and the district will take action based on those numbers.

"We are making decisions based on the number of classrooms needed, that are based on the size of our student population," said Superintendent David Janofa.

One prime example of the decline in student population is the high school. When it was built in 1971 there were 1,200 kids attending. Today the school has a population of only 550.

The last large class is 171 students and they are presently the juniors at PSHS. When they left the elementary levels, that is when the district decided to close North Elementary. The next biggest class after the juniors is 156, then class size drops to around the 100-120s.

With the lower enrollment, the Board of Education looked at a variety of ideas on how best to manage the district while provided the best possible education. A plan was decided on after many public and board meetings.

The present plan will be set to take place in the 2021-22 school year. The first move would be to vacate the district offices at the high school and move them to the former Dobbins Elementary, along with the bus maintenance department. The former board offices would then be renovated and turned into classrooms for the seventh and eighth grades, which will move to the high school.

Janofa said the one concern from parents was the combining of middle and high school students.

"There will be a high degree of separation," he said. "We will do all possible to keep the seventh/eighth grades and the high school grades separated."

On the plus side, moving the middle school seventh and eighth grades to PSHS would allow for a wider range of classes.

"We could offer them more opportunities," Janofa said. "We've added Spanish and math to the eighth grade for high school credit and we are planning to add Italian. We can do more at the high school when it comes to advanced grades."

The second move during the 2021-22 school year would be the closing of Union and the moving of those kids into McKinley. The Middle School would then cover grades four through six, and McKinley would handle K through three.

Janofa said the two vacated properties would then be considered. The district would like to maintain the ball fields at North, but doesn't need the building. The board is looking at a possible replat of the property so that could be accomplished.

As for Union, the district would like to see it repurposed into something for the community. Nothing has been set in stone yet.

The plan will likely begin this summer. Janofa said the district offices and bus department will be moved to Dobbins so work on the conversion to classrooms can begin.

Janofa said this problem is not just a Poland problem.

"Based on information that is based on our zip code, births are down," he said. "In fact, they are down across the state."

Neighboring school districts are also dealing with the problem. Boardman is looking to close its Market Street Elementary school this summer due to decreased enrollment.

Janofa hopes that for Poland, the 2021-22 school year will see a plateau for the rest of the decade of around 120 students per class.



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