HAVEN - The Haven USD 312 Board of Education will conduct a public hearing Monday night regarding the potential closing of Partridge Grade School, Partridge, in spring 2018.
The hearing will start at 6 p.m. in the Haven High School Auditorium.
The special meeting for the hearing will be followed by a regular meeting of the USD 312 board, slated to start at 6:45 p.m. in the auditorium. If the hearing stretches longer than 45 minutes, the board’s meeting could begin later than 6:45 p.m. On the board’s agenda for “action/discussion” is the future of Partridge Grade School.
Superintendent Clark Wedel said the board could take a decisive vote Monday on Partridge. Or, it could chedule a special meeting for the Partridge vote or put the matter on the Dec. 11 agenda, he said.
In October, the board voted 5-2 to move the Partridge school closing a step closer to reality by scheduling the Nov. 13 public hearing. Voting no were Kent McKinnis, who represents the Partridge area, and Paul Caffrey.
“I don’t think the votes will change,” McKinnis said Friday.
Partridge parents met Tuesday to talk about some of the things they want to say to the board Monday.
Parent Candy Geiser, who has a second-grader and fifth-grader at Partridge, shares McKinnis’ doubts that board members will change their views.
“But we want to try. We want to give it everything we can,” Geiser said.
“We have such an amazing staff,” Geiser said of Partridge. She does not think her son who needs extra help with speech would have received attention elsewhere that was on par with Partridge. “They just really, really work with the kids,” she said.
State assessments in English language arts, science and math show Partridge students excelled beyond the district's and state's averages. USD 312's other two elementary schools are Haven Elementary School, Haven, and Yoder Charter School, Yoder.
Wedel said enrollment at the K-6 Partridge Grade School is under 50 students. If the board votes to close Partridge after the 2017-18 school year, he probably would want a pre-enrollment next year to show where Partridge parents plan to send their children – to Haven or Yoder.
Yoder would have room to accept some Partridge students, and Haven has space, too, although there might be a rearrangement within the Haven building, according to Wedel. Neither school building would require construction of an addition, he said.
Geiser says Haven Elementary has more space than Yoder and would be the more likely option for Partridge students, but the bus ride could be 90 minutes each way for some children.
The previous removal of Grades 7-8 from Partridge prompted some families to send children to other public or private schools or to home-school them, Geiser and others have said, noting that some Amish families like K-8 schools because they send their children to school only through Grade 8.
The estimated savings to USD 312 if it closed Partridge is $200,000 a year, according to Wedel. Classified and certified staff could be transferred to other schools, but normal attrition within USD 312 might not be enough to enable all teachers and staff to retain their jobs, Wedel indicated.
Geiser noted that the same board agenda containing the future of Partridge has an item proposing a new sign for Haven High School that would cost about $20,000.