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Published: Thursday, 12/9/2010

Closing 1 elementary may save Bedford schools $650,000

TEMPERANCE -- The financial crisis facing Bedford Public Schools and the costs savings the district could realize in closing an elementary school were explained Wednesday night to about 200 people at a community meeting.

The administration is looking at shuttering one of the district's five elementary buildings to help offset a projected $4.6 million deficit for next school year.

Superintendent Ted Magrum said downsizing to four elementaries would equate to more than $650,000 in annual savings and result in seven teacher layoffs as well as the elimination of a principal, secretarial, and custodial positions.

With Monroe Road Elementary only nine years old, the four older elementaries -- Douglas Road, Jackman Road, Smith Road, and Temperance Road -- could be placed on the chopping block.

Mr. Magrum said he will make a recommendation to the board of education as to what school should be closed on Jan. 6.

Because of limited classrooms in the elementary school buildings the district would move the sixth graders to the junior high school if the board should decide to consolidate elementary schools.

Using a Power Point in the high school auditorium, Mr. Magrum explained to the audience that the district's financial woes are tied to declining enrollment. This year's senior class numbers 444 students while there are 310 pupils in the kindergarten classes and the suburban Toledo school district has lost nearly 250 students in the last three years, resulting in nearly $2.3 million less in revenue from the state.

"What is important is the effect this declining enrollment has on the amount of revenue we receive from the state. As those students decrease, it decreases the revenue we have available to run the district," Mr. Magrum said.

The audience was also told that a elementary downsizing would also result in busing and transportation changes and redistricting for some elementary students.

Sherri Peck was among the parents to question board members and school officials on whether the current average ratio of 25 students per teacher could be maintained with one less elementary school.

She suggested bringing additional teacher aides into the classrooms to help teachers.

Angie Weid, the mother of two boys who attend Smith Road Elementary, asked school officials about the impact that bringing next year's class of 350 students will have on the junior high building.

"Sixth graders don't belong in junior high," she said.

However, Mr. Magrum assured her that the building could accommodate the students, pointing out that the junior high housed the sixth through eighth grades classes 10 years ago when there was about 200 more sixth graders in the district.

Robin Bush, whose 11-year-old son attends Temperance Road Elementary, asked board members why they recently declined to join in the regional transportation study to determine whether savings could be achieved by combining busing operations in the county.

Board President Tim Brakel said he and other board members voted against study because they believed bus drivers and other employees in the transportation are doing excellent job.

"The board voted to continue to work with the current transportation staff to make reductions," he said.

The "town hall meeting" at the high school was the first of two presentations focusing on the option of closing an elementary building. The next presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the high school auditorium.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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