EXETER — Wyoming Area School Board members decided to close the Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School at the end of the school year and re-structure the district from a location-based to center-based model for the upcoming school year.
The decision came after a 90-day, government-mandated cooling off period following a public hearing in January. The board said the decision was based off of extensive data from various firms, including KCBA Architects.
“There’s no perfect scenario,” district Superintendent Janet Serino said. “These are difficult decisions. They’re not pleasant by any means.”
The decision came to close the school due to much of it’s failing or deteriorating infrastructure, which ultimately became too costly for the district to afford, officials said.
Some board members who attended Sarah J. Dymond as children themselves became emotional during the meeting.
Councilman Gerald Stofko said he spent eight years at the Harding-based elementary school and hopes to continue the friendships he had there after the vote.
“I had many, may friends at Sarah J Dymond, and I hope to continue to have them still after tonight,” he said. “For two years we’ve been studying this. In my heart I know I want to keep it open, but I also know that’s not the right answer.”
The usually quiet meeting was standing room only, filled with concerned parents, teachers and family members, listening intently to the fate of the beloved school.
The vote to close the building was 9-1, with Carl Yorina the sole vote against the closure.
Yorina voiced his concerns with closing from a financial standpoint, saying that the district is still responsible for maintenance while the building is on the market. His primary concern was still having to pay for repairs to the structure if the building — which will be up for sale — fails to attract a buyer quickly.
Numerous parents demanded to have their concerns heard ranging from transportation and safety issues to arguments over how the remaining schools in the district should be consolidated.
Council unanimously voted to change to a center-based district, despite audience pleas, beginning for the new school year in September.
Changes will be as follows:
• Kindergarten will be at the John F. Kennedy school.
• Grades one through three will be at the 10th Street school.
• Grades four through six will be at the Montgomery school.
Serino said one of the main reasons council decided on a center-based district is so that the children will have a socio-economic awareness of their peers, and the fact that it’s easier to have all teachers and buildings receiving the same education, teaching the same curriculum at center-based schools.
Donna Kostik, a district parent and mother of six, approached the podium to explain her feelings on the change to board members. As her children watched, Kostik became emotional during the speech, explaining that families with both parents working would have difficulties transporting their children to and from multiple locations, as well as the children themselves struggling to cope with losing a sibling who may have been at the same school.
“We as parents have a right to be heard,” she said. “I brought my kids here tonight, so they know I will never stop fighting for them.”
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