A Toledo elementary school that opened nearly a century ago will close its doors for good in June.
Trilby Elementary School, on Secor Road near Alexis Road in northwest Toledo, will be shuttered because of financial pressures and declining enrollment, officials said. Trilby opened in 1917 and is the oldest school in the Washington Local School District.
The school's approximately 340 students and 40 staff will be moved to other district schools. Children who live in the Point Place/Shoreland area will attend Shoreland Elementary, and the other students will be placed in schools near their homes.
In a phone message to parents, district Superintendent Patrick Hickey called the decision “difficult and heart-wrenching”.
“This decision has been made after years of study and is hastened by severely reduced revenue to the school district,” he said.
The superintendent said dwindling tax revenues have strained district coffers. He blamed declining property values and a state-wide bill that phases out certain taxes on business equipment and inventory, which had helped fund schools. Although the district receives $1.1 million a year in federal stimulus funds, Mr. Hickey said that money cannot be counted on because it runs out in 2012.
District spokesman Wendy Farran said the Board of Education made the decision to close Trilby at a work session on Saturday. She said the original proposal was to close Trilby in 2011, but the board decided to move more quickly after reviewing the district's finances.
“As discussions progressed on the financial situation of our district, as well as our community and county in general, it seemed a good idea to be proactive,” Ms. Farran said.
According to information provided by the district, Washington Local Schools is not in a financial crisis but will face a projected $6 million deficit in 2013.
By closing Trilby and gradually reducing staff numbers through retirement and attrition, the district expects to save around $1 million a year, Ms. Farran said.
In addition to financial pressures, enrollment in Washington Local schools has declined dramatically from its peak of 11,595 students in 1971. Today the number of students is down to 6,529. This drop in enrollment prompted the district to close four other district schools in the 1980s.
Ms. Farran said class sizes will remain small despite the redistribution of students.
“Class sizes for Washington Local are remarkably small,” Ms. Farran said. “The intention is certainly to keep all the classes small, which is part of the reason why students will be redistributed to various elementaries.”
The district has not decided what to do with the aging building. “They're exploring multiple options,” Ms. Farran said. “The attention right now is on where students will be attending and where staff will be moved to.”
For Trilby Elementary students and their parents, the news that the school will close came as a surprise.
“I was totally shocked,” said Ruth Whiteman, who was waiting for her two children outside the school yesterday. “There are a lot of students here and they get good grades.”
Elizabeth Perry, who was picking up her 10-year-old brother Brad from Trilby, expressed disbelief.
“It's crazy that they would split the kids up like this,” Ms. Perry said. “He's already made friends here.”
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