Hempfield Area board votes to shut Bovard
The Hempfield Area School Board on Monday, by a 7-2 vote, decided to close Bovard Elementary School.
The decision was made despite a number of parents passionately urging the board not to shutter the 35-year-old school.
Board members Sonya Brajdic, Diane Ciabattoni, Michele Fischer, Randy Stoner, Doug Lawson, Mike Kusma and Jeanne Smith voted to close the school.
Bob McDonald and Joe Lutz voted to keep the school open.
The vote means the school will close at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Superintendent Andy Leopold recommended the closing, calling it “a proactive step in securing a sound financial future” for the school district.
The district wanted to close the school in order to save approximately $1 million.
“Your passion has been heard and felt,” Leopold said.
He said he does not believe closing Bovard will solve all the district's financial problems.
“It's only one piece of the puzzle,” Leopold said.
Business manager Jude Abraham told the more than 150 parents gathered in the high school auditorium that the district will have to raise taxes over the next three years and continue to dip into its $12 million surplus to balance the budget.
During the past several years, the district has been forced to use some of its fund balance to offset a budget deficit, Abraham said.
Nevertheless, Abraham said, the district will have to raise taxes a total of 3.7 mills over the next three years.
For the past three years, the district has debated closing Bovard, which is the only area of the school district where population has been increasing.
Leopold said the issue came to the forefront this year because of “unprecedented limitations on public education.”
Kellie Nagy, a member of the Bovard PTO and an advocate of keeping the school open, said that the district eight times has attempted redistricting of students, but some of the classes at the other schools will be close to or slightly over capacity.
“I respectfully request you vote not to close Bovard tonight,” Rob Ritson said.
He said the school board needs to address the growing population in the northern part of the township and either build an addition to Maxwell Elementary School or build a school.
Ritson said past school boards had no problem spending money to build a field house, referring to the athletic complex near the high school.
“Your legacy will be a fractured community and broken hearts if you close this school,” Ritson said.
Tom Hardin, a teacher in the district who has a son in Fort Allen Elementary, asked the board to consider allowing the public to decide whether to close Bovard.
“Has the board considered a referendum and let voters decide what will happen to Bovard? I ask you to at least consider that,” he said.
Barbara Marin, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said when the school closes, 158 students from Bovard will transfer to Maxwell; 61 Bovard students will transfer to West Point; 69 students at Maxwell will attend Fort Allen; 42 students from Fort Allen will move to West Hempfield; and 31 West Point students will transfer to Stanwood.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Norwin band director is finding lots of success in return to his alma mater
- Project to tear down former Jeannette District Memorial Hospital on schedule, Excela says
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Westmoreland County furloughs weights and measurements director
- Police gather in Ligonier for Perryopolis officer’s funeral
- Penn Township man who shot friend gets probation
- Mt. Pleasant man charged with unlawful restraint
- Plenty of ‘pain’ to share, as Westmoreland County budget OK’d with $8M in cuts
- Hempfield leaders kill zoning request for townhomes
- 11 Westmoreland inmates accused of setting fire put in solitary confinement
- Unity name excised from Latrobe parks, recreation