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Lake Ridge considers closing 1 elementary school

Updated: March 28, 2013 6:34AM



The Lake Ridge School Board voted to close one elementary school, reduce its pension obligation, and outsource its janitorial services in order to eliminate a $1.7 million budget deficit.

The votes happened at Monday night’s board meeting, which had nearly 200 people in attendance. The board said it has not decided which of two possible elementary schools — Hosford Park or Grissom — it will close, but it will hold some town hall meetings in the next few weeks to get public input on the decision and hold board study sessions.

Board member Glenn Johnson said the district is in the midst of a financial “tsunami.”

“The frozen tax levy is just killing us and the property tax caps don’t help,” Johnson said. “Our tax collection rate is about 76 percent and previously it was around 92 percent. Add in the school funding formula changes, and the state hasn’t done us any favors at all.”

The district was required to cut its budget at mid-year. If no cuts were made, the district would not be able to meet payroll in October. Johnson said the cuts should cover the deficit.

Outsourcing janitors is projected to save $583,000 between March and December, while shifting the mandatory 3 percent mandatory employee pension contribution to employees will save $254,358 from March to December. By moving one elementary school into Longfellow Elementary School, the district would save $267,000 in 2013 and $800,000 in 2014.

Kelley Thomas, whose daughter is in fourth grade at Hosford Park, said she isn’t sure the district has explored all cost-cutting measures. Thomas suggested that the board give up its compensation and administrators consider attending fewer professional development conferences.

“It’s very upsetting, and now we’re fighting among ourselves — Hosford Park and Grissom,” Thomas said.

Thomas said closing either school will negatively impact the community by lowering property values. Grissom is the only school remaining in Black Oak, and supporters said the school serves as a positive symbol in the community.

Lake Ridge Business Manager James Huddleston did not return a message left for comment.



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