River View board votes to consolidate Union with Warsaw

| December 21, 2018

WARSAW – The River View Board of Education voted unanimously at its Dec. 20 meeting to pass a resolution to consolidate Union and Warsaw elementary schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

Prior to passing the resolution they heard from the food service director about how this decision would impact feeding students and at the Dec. 20 meeting Transportation Director Joel Moore updated them on plans for bussing the students.

“My assignment as I understood it was to figure out how to transport 170 students from Union Elementary School to Warsaw Elementary School and not increase overall route times and maintain the current drop off and pick up times at the school,” he said. “Time and mileage is the name of the game for us, not necessarily student numbers.”

According to state data researched by Moore, River View Transportation is the eighth largest district in square miles (376 square miles) out of 605 districts. Its efficiency rating in ridership is 15th out of 605. This is based on a calculation of how many students we average on a bus, number of buses used, and taking into account the districts density per square mile which is 2.97 students per square mile.

“The state’s average of students per square mile is 19.1 so we are spread out,” Moore said. “It’s a miracle we get every kid where they need to be every day.”

Union currently has five existing bus routes and one special route that services the area. Out of the 170 students at Union, 126 of them were riding busses as of October.

Moore summarized his report with the following transportation solution:

  • Add one bus as a transfer bus (from the spare fleet gaining elementary stop time for two Union area buses.)
  • Use existing bus route from Warsaw to absorb New Castle stops to gain time for one Union area bus.
  • Use existing special bus route that travels through the Fallsburg area as a transfer bus to gain time for two Union area buses.
  • One driver, 15 hours per week, assigned to a sub rotation or a part-time contract for a retired driver.
  • Estimated cost: $21,270

Consolidating the schools is not something the board wants to do, but something they feel is necessary after learning about the funds they will lose when the AEP Power Plant closes. The board has already seen about a $1.2 million decrease in its funding due to the devaluation of the power plant.

“We were blessed to have the power plant,” said Superintendent Dalton Summers. “Our biggest focus now though has to be on what we want River View kids to have when it comes to their education.”

The district also has been working with ENLIT, a company hired to study district efficiencies. They also suggested consolidating Union and Warsaw and are working on other ideas to further help the district save money.

“We have to have revenue sources to continue to offer what we’ve been offering,” Summers said. “There will be more to this puzzle.”

Several people in attendance at the meeting were concerned about the consolidation and one issue raised was if any teachers would lose their job.

“My prediction is that I can’t imagine anyone at Union losing their job,” Summers said. “I’m not saying positions won’t be eliminated, but I don’t know if any people will have to be laid off.”

Board member Brent Porteus shared that he has been involved with the school district for 31 years and has always supported community schools.

“I doubt you would find a district in the state with buildings the age of ours that look as good as they do when you walk into them on the first day of school,” he said. “We are going to lose money from the power plant though. That is a reality. We have to find ways to cut our budget and still continue to do a good job of educating our students.”

Porteus added that they did everything they could to keep Union open. Unfortunately, though its enrollment has severely declined over the years. Summers reported that Union had 240 students in 2012 and at one point last year only had 150. Six years ago it also had two classes per grade level. Now it is down to one per grade level.

“We all know we are going to lose the power plant,” said Cordell Brown, board member. “That is not going to change. We have to try our best to maintain the quality of education we offer with what we have to work with.”

Brown’s family went to Union so he understands how important it is to the community, but he reminded those in attendance that they are a district family and not just Union.

“This is a step we have to take whether we like it or not,” Brown said.

Porteus agreed with him.

“This is not an answer to the problem that we like, but I motion that we adopt the resolution to start this process,” Porteus said. “There are a lot of transition things that need to happen. I’ve always been for community schools, but I just don’t see any other choice.”

The motion was seconded by David Lapp, board member.

“This was not an easy decision for us,” said Dan Hothem, board president. “We appreciate everyone that gave input tonight.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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