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Lake Ridge forums to address school closing plan

Updated: April 2, 2013 6:37AM



Lake Ridge Schools will hold three community forums at the district’s elementary schools to garner information about which school should close.

The forums are tentatively scheduled for March 12 at Grissom Elementary School, March 13 at Hosford Park Elementary School, and March 14 at Longfellow Elementary School.

On Monday the board voted to close an elementary school — either Grissom or Hosford Park — as part of a plan to address a $1.7 million budget deficit. Closing a school is projected to save $267,000 in 2013 and $800,000 in 2014. Students would be moved to Longfellow Elementary School.

In addition, the board voted to outsource its janitorial services starting in March and shifted the mandatory 3 percent mandatory employee pension contribution to employees

The closure has garnered considerable public comment at the past two school board meetings. If Grissom closes, the district will no longer have a school in Black Oak, which is located north of Ridge Road.

Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley said the board will discuss the input at several study sessions, but she hopes to have a decision in place by April. Johnson-Shirley said the district has to give notice to staff about reductions in force. Seniority is no longer a consideration in layoffs, so the district will have to find the fairest procedure.

“This will mean an increase in class sizes based on the data,” Johnson-Shirley said. “Small classes are preferred for more individualized instruction, but we know this can be done.”

Johnson-Shirley said the combination of the levy freeze in Lake County, state-mandated property tax caps, changes to the state funding formula, and lower tax collections presented a difficult situation for the district. If the district didn’t cut the budget at midyear, it wouldn’t be able to meet payroll in October.

“It’s just sad state of affairs,” she said. “Nobody did anything wrong. But this pits the community against each other and employees against each other. My heart is heavy.”



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