The Gettysburg Area School District Board of Education voted Monday evening to approve the resolution to close Eisenhower Elementary School, which has been a part of the district since the 1959-60 school year.
The nine-member board approved the resolution unanimously, creating the rearrangement of 59 different staff positions at the district’s three remaining elementary schools.
“The board and the administration have discussed the process for months,” said board President Patricia Symmes. “We had to follow the process (determined by) the state because we couldn’t just close it.”
The 120 East Broadway building, just north of Gettysburg Borough, will house both the Vida and Montessori charter schools beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
The charter schools will lease the building from GASD as part of separate five-year lease agreements.
The charter schools currently use the Kefauver building, which will be closed and vacant after this school year.
The two schools’ rent will increase a combined total of $150,000 when they move to Eisenhower because they will be occupying more space.
In conducting the necessary research that resulted in the eventual closing of the Cumberland Township elementary school, GASD Superintendent Larry Redding said that a lot of parental concerns were looked into, as well as transportation issues.
Additionally, the board unanimously approved the elimination of 24.5 staff positions, only one of which — high school athletic trainer — resulted in the loss of a job.
“We’ve always been fortunate over the years that we’ve always had space (to eliminate positions),” said Symmes.
The other eliminations are being accommodated by reassignments and retirements.
“The retirees tonight helped us eliminate positions,” Redding said of the 18 retirees that made up 423 years of service to GASD.
Over the last three years, the district has reduced its workforce by 10 percent according to Redding, which is partially due to lower enrollment.
Redding said that the district’s kindergarten enrollment is in the 200-student range and has been for five years.
GASD Business Manager Brad Hunt was unaware of the savings of eliminating the positions, however Redding noted that the closing of Eisenhower is projected to surpass the initially predicted savings of $500,000.
“With the lease income and transportation costs, we could exceed the (initially projected) savings,” Redding said. “We’ll let the dust settle and should know by August.”
To assist students with the transition to new elementary buildings, the district bussed Eisenhower Elementary kids Monday to the building where they will attend school for the 2011-12 school year.
“We had to deal with what will help the kids be less traumatized by the move,” said Redding, who added that students toured their new buildings on Monday and met their teachers as well.
To further assist with a smooth transition, the board unanimously approved a change in the 2011-12 school calendar, which will make the first day of school for all students grades K-5 on Aug. 31. The first day of school for students grades 6-12 will remain on Aug. 30.
“Adjusting the calendar gives teachers more time for the transition,” Redding said.
Board member Sally Michael, who voted “regretfully yes,” to the approval to close Eisenhower, said that it’s sad to see the loss of a “neighborhood school.”
“Change is difficult and I know there’s some attachment to that building,” Michael said after the meeting.
Additionally, the board approved a federal mandate to increase school breakfast prices at all levels by 5 cents and lunch prices at all levels by 10 cents. Half-pints of milk will go up 5 cents and adult lunch prices will also go up 10 cents.
The price increases bring elementary breakfast to $1.05, elementary lunch to $2.05, secondary breakfast to $1.15, secondary lunch to $2.35, adult lunch to $3.60 and half-pints of milk to 50 cents.
The increase in meal prices is due to the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires schools participating in the School Nutrition Programs to price the paid meal so that the reimbursement received for free meals is not offsetting the cost to produce the paid meal.
“With more variety, options and fresher foods (for students), there is going to be a higher cost involved,” said Hunt.
Mark Walters may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.