admin April 13, 2018

BY MEG FOX

Consolidating the school district’s two high schools may not be the best cost savings option.

The amount of Necessary Small High School Funding that the district stands to lose through consolidation could squash that unpopular option, one of several the school board will discuss at their Jan. 8 workshop. “It’s looking more like consolidation might not be a possibility,” said Nancy Sisk, a trustee for the Fall River JUSD.

“We don’t have all the numbers, but from the information I’ve gotten it may not be a cost savings for the district,” she said.

Supt. Eric Newton said the situation and the consolidation option “are more complex than they might seem.”

Newton wants to improve the district’s curriculum while in the throes of declining enrollment and a tightening budget.

One of the more controversial considerations was to consolidate the 9-12th grade high schools in either Burney or McArthur.

“It would generate some savings, such as having fewer principals and office and custodial staff and, instead of having two classes of 10 students (at two sites), we could have one class of 20,” Newton said.

“But, on the financial side, we may not gain as much as we think and so the analysis is continuing.”

Newton said a “subset of options” surrounding high school consolidation includes the pros and cons of where the district’s seventh and eighth grade students would go.

At present, consolidating kindergarten through sixth grade is not a consideration.

“We’re trying to look at all the different options and trying to figure out what’s the best direction for the next several years,” Sisk said.

In Burney, a group of concerned parents has organized a community meeting set for Dec. 30, at 6 p.m., in the Burney High School library. “We want to hear from people with potential alternatives and suggestions to help with the problems currently facing the Fall River school district,” said one parent.

The trustees will discuss their own proposals and ask for public comment at the Jan. 15 school board meeting in Burney.

Sisk said she wants the final decision to be a community decision “so that we’ve all had input in deciding what is the best we can do for our kids.”

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